Treating Selective Mutism

Development Projects Comments Off on Treating Selective Mutism

Working with Dr. Deborah Beidel’s team from the UCF Anxiety Disorders Clinic, we have created a prototype of an iPad app that can be used to treat Selective Mutism. Selective Mutism is a condition in which a child does not speak in certain social environments, yet has the ability to speak at home with their family. The treatment involves behavioral change through therapy. Dr. Beidel and her students have come up with a method for treating selective mutism by using fun iPad games as a part of the therapy.

RETRO has been tasked with developing a prototype iPad app that can be used to aid therapy delivery through the creation of patient profiles, through which therapy sessions are launched. During these sessions, the clinician will have access to a number of apps and games developed specifically to be both fun and engaging while also delivering the behavioral exercises. A coin system is used to reward compliant responses throughout the session that can be exchanged for real-world rewards as a method of positive reinforcement for behavioral change.

The desired functionality of the full app includes:

  • Add and remove patient profiles
  • Customizable avatars
  • Launch individual therapy sessions
  • Provide a toolset of fun, game-based therapy exercises
  • Collect SUDS data over each therapy session
  • Track therapy progress over sessions by patient
  • Integrate coin reward system for reinforcing compliant responses
  • Integrate experience system for patient avatar customization

For the prototype, we have created a framework to demonstrate how the patient management system works, as well as developed a sample game app, Lift-Off!. This game has the patient record and then play their voice in front of those other than family members. It does so by embedding the therapy exercise within a game context in which the player is trying to use the power of their voice to inflate a hot air balloon. After the patient records their voice in private, by playing the clip louder and with less distortion more air goes into the balloon. Once the patient is able to play their clip a few times at full volume and without distortion, they win the game and the balloon takes off into the sky.

The prototype of the app won “Best in Show Academic – Student” at the 3rd Annual Serious Games and Virtual Environments Showcase, which was a part of the International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare 2013, sponsored by the Society for Simulation in Healthcare. You can read more about the win on our blog.

We are currently seeking funding opportunities which will allow us to fully develop the app.

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