Brief Report: Pilot Study of a Novel Interactive Digital Treatment to Improve Cognitive Control in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Co-occurring ADHD Symptoms

J Autism Dev Disord. 2019 Apr;49(4):1727-1737. doi: 10.1007/s10803-018-3856-7.


The presence of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is associated with worse cognitive control. Children with ASD and ADHD often respond poorly to medications, thus we need alternative treatments. We examined the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of Project Evo-a digital treatment. Nineteen children with ASD and co-occurring ADHD symptoms completed this app-based treatment that targets multi-tasking through gameplay versus a comparison educational treatment. Children had a high engagement with both treatments, and parents and children reported high acceptability. Within-group analyses suggest the multi-tasking but not the educational treatment may improve cognitive control. This multi-tasking treatment is feasible, acceptable, and possibly efficacious for cognitive control impairments in children with ASD and ADHD.

Keywords: Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder; Comorbidity; Executive function; Go/No-Go; Inhibition; Neurodevelopmental disorder.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / therapy*
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / epidemiology
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / psychology*
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / therapy*
  • Child
  • Cognition* / physiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mobile Applications
  • Parents
  • Pilot Projects
  • Research Report
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted / instrumentation
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome