C. Andrés-Roqueta, R. Flores, A.B. Górriz, K. Cuervo, F. Ramos

Universitat Jaume I de Castelló (SPAIN)
Children with developmental disorders commonly present a social communication difficulty that is a poor competence to use and understand language in different contexts. For example, these difficulties are present when starting and maintaining conversations with friends, understanding verbal and non-verbal cues during a conversation, misunderstanding of metaphors, jokes and double meanings, or being informative enough. These issues are classically assigned to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Social Communication Disorder (SCD), however these pragmatic difficulties have been recently noticed in children with other disorders such as now in the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In this sense, educational professionals who design intervention plans for these children sometimes have difficulties in establishing diagnoses, since there are traits that could be confused with different disorders. Moreover, there are not comprehensive tests for the correct assessment of social communication skills to establish adjusted interventions.

In parallel, different tools have been generated from the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to compensate the difficulties of children with developmental disorders, since they are better adapted to their information processing style. In this sense, the use of mobile applications (app) has recently been promoted, since they include a playful and motivational component in learning.

As a result, our research team has created a new tool for the detection and treatment of social communication difficulties. The elements of the application allow the assessment and training of different pragmatic abilities (e.g. like the use and understanding of indirect and non-literal language, lexical disambiguation, use of referring expressions, narrative, use and comprehension of different speech acts, or the understanding of non-verbal language). Following the dynamic assessment guidelines, before and after playing with the app (intervention with feedback), the child will have test and re-test items. The main objective of the app is to establish guidelines for the design of interventions adjusted to the real needs in the area of social communication of children with developmental disorders, based on the results obtained in the app.

As a conclusion, the app will report on the actual and potential level of each child, being more adjusted to the reality of its needs Therefore, a motivating and useful app is presented, and it can be shared with the different educational sectors (educational services, practitioners and psychologists, speech and language therapists, associations, etc.).