Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Maryellen McClain


Maryellen McClain


Sarah Schwartz


Bryn Harris


Kaitlin Bundock


Gretchen Peacock


Technology, such as tablet/phone apps, robots, video games, and virtual reality, can be used to teach skills to autistic children. Research on technology supports for autistic youth often focus on social skills, a main part of an autism diagnosis. However, autistic children may also have academic challenges, and fewer studies have looked at how technology can teach academic skills to children with autism. We created three studies to look at how academic apps may benefit autistic children. In the first study, we reviewed studies that looked at how academic apps can increase the academic skills of children with autism. We only reviewed studies that included a single subject design (i.e., looks at a single case, such as a person or family, in-depth over time) because they are practical for disabilities that are uncommon and are often used in academic settings. Generally, treatments that used academic apps with autistic children increased their academic skills. In the second study, we tested an academic app for learning numbers and letters. We used a single subject design with five preschool children with either autism or a developmental delay. Most children who used the academic app in our study did not show gains in either numbers or letters. In the final study, we interviewed parents of autistic children and asked them about their experiences with academic apps. Parents talked about the pros, cons, and useful features of academic apps. They added ideas about how academic apps could be improved for their children with autism. Overall, academic apps generally appear to be useful for teaching academic skills to autistic children, and these studies helped us discover what may be missing in the current research along with future directions for new studies.



Included in

Psychology Commons