Theory of Mind Software for Autism and other Communication Disorders

Award Information
Agency:
Department of Health and Human Services
Amount:
$188,462.00
Program:
SBIR
Contract:
1R43DC008510-01A1
Solitcitation Year:
2007
Solicitation Number:
N/A
Branch:
N/A
Award Year:
2007
Phase:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
DC008510
Solicitation Topic Code:
N/A
Small Business Information
LAUREATE LEARNING SYSTEMS, INC.
110 EAST SPRING ST, WINOOSKI, VT, 05404
Hubzone Owned:
N
Woman Owned:
Y
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
N
Duns:
064237621
Principal Investigator
 MARY WILSON
 (802) 655-4755
 maryw@llsys.com
Business Contact
 SWEIG WILSON
Phone: (802) 655-4755
Email: maryw@LaureateLearning.com
Research Institution
N/A
Abstract
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Full participation in the human social milieu requires that one be able to understand that other people have their own goals, intentions, and beliefs (which may or may not be correct) - and that these epistemic states govern people's behavior. This form of awareness has been called Theory of Mind (ToM). Unfortunately, the development of ToM is severely delayed or fails altogether in many children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), as well as in oral deaf children from hearing families (DH) who are not exposed to adequate language input, and others with Specific Lan- guage Impairment (SLI). The prevalence of ToM deficits in these populations contributes to mounting evidence that language plays a critical role in ToM development, and in fact there is considerable support for the position that it plays a causal role. In the proposed research we seek to develop a curriculum and intervention software for children with ASD, SLI, and DH children that can be used to help remediate language deficits that are reliably associated with poor performance on classic tests of ToM development. Progress toward this goal will at the least provide at risk children with a basis for understanding the language associated with epistemic states, and it is predicted, will also aid in the actual development of ToM abilities in many children for whom these abilities may otherwise be out of reach. In Phase I the investigators and consultants will detail the curriculum for the full project, specify the curriculum for the prototype software, and develop the prototype program. The prototype will then be field tested with children in each of the populations named above. Being able to understand that other people have their own goals, intentions, and beliefs (which may or may not be correct) - and that these epistemic states govern people's behavior - has been called Theory of Mind (ToM). Unfortunately, the development of ToM is severely delayed or fails altogether in many children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), as well as in oral deaf children who are not exposed to adequate language input and others with Specific Language Impairment. In the proposed research we will develop intervention software that will help to remediate language deficits that are reliably associated with poor performance on classic tests of ToM development. Progress toward this goal will provide children with a basis for understanding the language associated with epistemic states, and it is predicted, will also aid in the development of ToM abilities.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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