Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D
Pedagogical University, Cracow, Poland
Cardinal Wyszynski University, Warsaw, Poland
DrOmnibus — an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) technology company based in Poland — is a rising star in the European ABA market. In a previous interview with the company, we discussed how they are positioning themselves to enter the U.S. market as one of only four European companies to join Google’s LaunchPad Accelerator program, and the only ABA company to do so. Below, I sat down with Marta Holeska (Pedagogical University) and Lukasz Prochwicz (Cardinal Wyszynski University) to discuss the state of the industry in Poland and how the company is evaluating the effectiveness of their technologies on clinical service delivery.
What is the current state of autism treatment in Poland?
Lukasz Prochwicz: Polish legislation does not standardize therapy for children with autism. Even though therapeutic offers for children with ASD include all of the approaches that were listed in the 2015 National Autism Center report, therapies based on established methods are, unfortunately, neither dominant nor supported by the state. ABA-based therapy is available mostly in larger cities, such as Krakow, Warsaw, Gdansk, Poznan, or Wroclaw, i.e., those that house the largest behavioral centers in Poland.
How did this study come about?
Marta Holeksa: I have been looking for video games designed for persons with disabilities for a long time. Browsing through the offers of video game developers, I noticed that only a single company in Poland, DrOmnibus, developed educational games designed for special education. The content, special effects, and colors of these games are adjusted to children with various deficits. After looking into the games and noticing the children’s interest in them, I decided that it would be worth testing how multimedia tools affect the development of cognitive skills in children with disabilities.
What problem does this study intend to solve?
Marta Holeksa: The main aim of my study was to test whether working with early-school children with disabilities could be made more effective by using additional, modern cultural tools, that is, a tablet with an appropriate selection of educational games.
How did you carry out the study?
Marta Holeksa: The study was conducted at the Education and Revalidation Center in Cieszyn, Poland. Study participants were children in early school age with moderate intellectual disabilities, including children with autism. The children took part in additional classes in teams of seven, where they used a multimedia tool developed by DrOmnibus. Instructions were provided clearly by the supervisor of the classes. The video games that were used during the classes corresponded to monthly work schedules.
The participants were divided into the experimental group, which used the DrOmnibus tool as an independent variable during therapy, and the control group, which did not use the DrOmnibus tool and formed a reference point for the experimental group. Each group numbered 35 children. The children were divided between the experimental and the control group in a manner that minimized differences between the two groups. In order to correctly compare the effects of the therapy, nine dependent variables (skills) were measured in both groups, at baseline, at the end of the study, and as follow-up. The follow-up measurement was conducted after a summer break of over two months, which means that its results indicated the children’s internalized progress.
What did you find?
Marta Holeksa: The DrOmnibus tool was found to have a positive and statistically significant effect on all measured skills: mathematical abilities, casual thinking, orientation in directions (e.g. positioning an object), orientation in space (up and down), orientation (left and right), manual and graphical proficiency, bottom-up attention, top-down attention, attention span. I also assessed the effect of the DrOmnibus tool according to the children’s age, sex, and disability using the Kruskal–Wallis test followed by the Wilcoxon test with the Bonferroni correction. The results showed that the DrOmnibus tool had a positive effect on the measured skills regardless of age, sex, or disability. I was able to conclude with 95% reliability that the inclusion of the DrOmnibus tool into therapy increased the children’s attention time 3.9 times, which is a remarkable result.
This study compared the DrOmnibus app against no app. Do you have plans to compare the relative effectiveness of multiple apps in future work?
Marta Holeksa: Of course I will study the effect of other tools, as long as new educational products keep appearing on the market that are designed for persons with intellectual disabilities, including autism, that lend themselves to further research. I may also conduct a study with children from a different part of Poland in order to verify the statistical data obtained with this particular group of participants.
I think that once this study is published, more teachers, therapists, or even parents who work with persons with disabilities, including autism, will notice how appropriate multimedia tools benefit the development of some cognitive abilities among children.
If you are interested in learning more about DrOmnibus, or receiving a free 14-day trial of their app, click here.
Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is the President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC, which owns the top behavior analytic media outlet in the world, bSci21.org. bSci21Media aims to disseminate behavior analysis to the world and to support ABA companies around the globe through the Behavioral Science in the 21st Century blog and its subsidiaries, bSciEntrepreneurial, bSciWebDesign, bSciWriting, bSciStudios and the ABA Outside the Box CEU series. Dr. Ward received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno under Dr. Ramona Houmanfar. He has served as a Guest Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and as an Editorial Board member of Behavior and Social Issues. Dr. Ward has also provided ABA services to children and adults with various developmental disabilities in day centers, in-home, residential, and school settings, and previously served as Faculty Director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas. Dr. Ward is passionate about disseminating behavior analysis to the world and growing the field through entrepreneurship. Todd can be reached at [email protected]
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