Computerised attention training for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities: a randomised controlled trial

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Background: Children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) experience heightened attentiondifficulties which have been linked to poorer cognitive, academic and social outcomes. Although, increasing researchhas focused on the potential of computerised cognitive training in reducing attention problems, limited studies haveassessed whether this intervention could be utilised for those with IDD. This study aimed to assess the efficacy of acomputerised attention training programme in children with IDD. Methods: In a double-blind randomised controlledtrial, children (n = 76; IQ < 75) aged 4–11 years were assigned to an adaptive attention training condition or anonadaptive control condition. Both conditions were completed at home over a 5-week period and consisted of 25sessions, each of 20-min duration. Outcome measures (baseline, posttraining and 3-month follow-up) assessed coreattention skills (selective attention, sustained attention and attentional control) and inattentive/hyperactivebehaviour. Results: Children in the attention training condition showed greater improvement in selective attentionperformance compared to children in the control condition (SMD = 0.24, 95% CI 0.02, 0.45). These improvementswere maintained 3 months after training had ceased (SMD = 0.26, 95% CI 0.04, 0.48). The attention trainingprogramme was not effective in promoting improvements in sustained attention, attentional control or inattentive/hyperactive behaviours. Conclusions: The findings suggest that attention training may enhance some aspects ofattention (selective attention) in children with IDD, but the small to medium effect sizes indicate that furtherrefinement of the training programme is needed to promote larger, more global improvements. Keywords: Attention;cognitive training; developmental disability; intellectual disability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1380-1389
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


  • Attention
  • cognitive training
  • developmental disability
  • intellectual disability

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