Education January 5, 2022
MITA: a unique, early-intervention application for children with autism
MITA (Mental Imagery Therapy for Autism) by ImagiRation LLC. is the first and only language therapy application supported by clinical data for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In a 3-year clinical trial of 6,454 children with autism, language score in children who engaged with MITA has increased to levels, which were 120% higher than in children with similar initial evaluations.
The Educational Objective of MITA
ImagiRation is a digital medicine startup with links to MIT, Harvard, and Boston University, has developed the highly innovative adaptive language therapy application for children with autism i.e. the Mental Imagery Therapy for Autism (MITA). MITA is based on Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT), one of the best supported therapies for ASD. PRT is a naturalistic intervention that targets key, or “pivotal,” areas of development that, in turn, affect a wide range of behaviors.
The educational objective of MITA is to develop one of the four pivotal skills targeted by PRT: a child’s ability to notice and to respond to multiple cues presented simultaneously. The objective was specifically chosen because developing this ability has been shown to decrease stimulus over selectivity and, most importantly, to lead to improvements in general learning.
What makes MITA special?
- Pivotal Response Treatment: MITA puzzles are designed to help kids learn to mentally integrate multiple features of an object
- Simple Interactions: Simple drag-and-drop mechanism makes it easy for toddlers and kids to touch and move objects
- Friendly & Engaging: Exercises arranged into six fun themes with beautiful graphics that every child will love
We believe that systematic, computerized training is the best way to train a child’s ability to respond to multiple cues, an ability that has been shown to lead to vast improvements in general learning. Our hypothesis is that regular practice with the MITA application will result not only in a greater ability to attend to multiple cues, but also in vast improvements of transfer tasks measuring visuo-spatial as well as communicative skills.” – Dr. Andrey Vyshedskiy, Founder & CEO of ImagiRation LLC.
Systematic & Engaging approach
MITA starts with simple exercises that teach a child to attend to only one feature, such as size or color. Over time, the exercises get more difficult and require the child to attend to two features simultaneously, such as both color and size. In order to solve these puzzles, a child must learn how to hold two pieces of information in their mind (both the size and the color of an object) and make a decision based on the combination of these features. Once a child has practiced attending to two features, the program moves on to puzzles that require attending to three features, such as color, size and shape, and then eventually to puzzles that involve attending to an ever-increasing number of characteristics.
As a child progresses through MITA’s systematic exercises, he or she is developing the ability to simultaneously attend to a greater number of features. This helps in reducing the propensity towards tunnel vision and developing an essential component of language. The ability to mentally build an image based on a combination of multiple features is absolutely necessary for understanding syntax, spatial prepositions and verb tenses.
MITA as a digital medicine
The significant improvement of language observed in the MITA study brings hope to many families. MITA has been translated into over 12 languages and is available in over 100 countries. MITA has the potential to become an essential tool of digital medicine for children with language delay. With COVID-19 speeding society transition into the realm of telemedicine and online therapies, digital medicine shows tremendous promise, when its application is given sufficient time and the ingenuity to perform outside the bounds of classic therapies.
MITA Development Team
MITA has been developed by Dr. Andrey Vyshedskiy, a neuroscientist from Boston University; Rita Dunn, a Harvard University-educated early-childhood specialist; MIT-educated Jonah Elgart and a group of award-winning artists and developers working alongside experienced therapists.
To know more about the MITA clinical study check out: https://www.mdpi.com/2227-9032/8/4/566/htm
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