E-Unstuck: Interactive E-Learning Software for Parents to Support Executive Functioning and Behavior Regulation in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

SBIR Fast Track

Project Info

Project Description

ID: 1R44MH109193-01
TERM: 09/15 – 03/18

The current prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder is 1 in 68 children, and 69% of these children do not have an intellectual disability (ASDwoID). Individuals with ASDwoID are at considerable risk for maladaptive adult outcomes (e.g., un- or underemployment), and executive functioning (EF) impairments significantly contribute to this risk. Unstuck and On Target (UOT) is the only empirically supported EF intervention specifically targeted to the needs of the ASDwoID population. It has improved both EF and social skills in children with ASDwoID in a randomized controlled trial. Despite its demonstrated success, there are significant geographical, scheduling, and financial barriers to parental adaptation of the UOT curriculum.

Goal and Innovation: The goal of this project is to develop and test e-Unstuck, an e-learning intervention that (1) provides advanced training to parents of children with ASDwoID on how to implement the evidence-based UOT curriculum at home and (2) is built on 3C’s proprietary, state-of-the-art, Dynamic e-Learning Platform, an established platform with high ratings of quality, value, usability, and feasibility from end users. e-Unstuck will make UOT more accessible to parents with geographical, scheduling, and/or financial constraints and will provide parents with key tools (e.g., video modeling, virtual simulations, personalized reports) to increase efficacious adoption of UOT principles, above and beyond those provided in the UOT manual. e-Unstuck will be the first dynamically adaptive, personalized, interactive software product specifically designed to deploy an evidence-based EF intervention to parents of children with ASDwoID.

Specific Aims: We will accomplish five specific aims, two in Phase I, and three in Phase II: (1) develop a prototype of e-Unstuck, (2) conduct a feasibility test of e-Unstuck with parents of children with ASDwoID between the ages of 8-12, (3) fully develop the e-Unstuck software and conduct iterative usability testing with parents of children with ASDwoID, (4) conduct a pilot efficacy test in which 110 parents of children with ASDwoID are randomly assigned to the e-Unstuck intervention or to a control condition in which they receive in-person training on the UOT curriculum, and (5) prepare e-Unstuck for commercialization.

Hypotheses: As a result of the pilot efficacy test, we hypothesize that (1) parents who interact with the e-Unstuck software will report greater knowledge and use of UOT principles, less parenting stress and greater parenting sense of competence, and improved child EF and social skills compared to control parents, (2) parents who spend more time engaged with the intervention will show greater improvements in outcome variables, and (3) parents who interact with the e-Unstuck software will find the software to be of high quality, value, usability, and feasibility.

Commercialization Plan: e-Unstuck will be a unique commercial offering within a large underserved niche market. Revenue will be generated through direct sales to parents of children with ASDwoID and volume sales to organizations (e.g., schools, clinics, parent support agencies) who work with children with ASDwoID and their parents.