In many areas of health care, technology allows physicians to tailor treatments to the needs of the individual; however, there is no technology doing this for autism. Dr. Giacomo Vivanti hopes that eye tracking — which measures what people are looking at or eye movements— will change that.
The Improving Child-Treatment Fit in Autism Early Intervention Study focuses on the question of “what works for whom.” Dr. Vivanti will be working with local early intervention centers to determine if eye-tracking technology can help match children with autism to the most appropriate evidence-supported educational interventions. “Eye tracking is the closest we can get to seeing the world from the point of view of children with ASD and understanding how they feel in response to what they see,” says Dr. Vivanti.
Dr. Vivanti will use the eye-tracking technology to understand where children direct their attention and how they respond emotionally to different teaching approaches.
His research team will use this information to generate a learning profile for each child that includes information on the kinds of situations that seem to facilitate optional learning.
If the study hypothesis is supported, the ‘child-treatment fit’ method used to assign children to different teaching approaches has the potential to help clinicians and families make more informed decisions when choosing among different educational options,” he says.