Computer Games to Improve Behavioral Regulation in FASD-affected Children 

Researcher: Christina Chambers (UC San Diego), Claire Coles (Emory University), Lyubov Yevtushok (Rivne Diagnostic Center, Ukraine), Natalya Zymak-Zakutnya (Khmelnytski Regional Perinatal Center, Ukraine)
Location: Ukraine

Project Description

GoFar

Prenatal exposure to alcohol is the leading known cause of developmental disabilities in children throughout the world. Children who are affected by alcohol are diagnosed as having Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) which includes serious learning and behavior problems that can interfere with adaptive function throughout life.

The research team has developed a treatment for children with FASD-related adaptive functioning impairments that was demonstrated in a pilot study in the United States to be effective for children with FASD in the age range of 5 - 10 years. The intervention reduces the amount of behavioral disregulation within a ten-week intervention period, and the effects have been shown to persist for at least a six-month follow-up period. This novel intervention, known as “GoFAR”, is based on the use of a computer game in which the child learns through playing the game to utilize a meta-cognitive strategy that supports self-regulation. Through gameplay, the child learns strategies that can then be applied in everyday life.

Currently, PDEL is funding work to adapt the GoFAR technology for application in Ukraine by revamping the current software for use on a tablet or iPad along with translation of content into Ukrainian language. The software would be tested in a sample of 20 children with a confirmed diagnosis of FASD in Ukraine, who are part of a longitudinal study on FASD-affected children currently implemented by the research team.

Piloting of the technology with pre- and post-test evaluation and parent/caregiver satisfaction surveys, we could demonstrate that a low-cost, readily administered tool could positively impact child outcomes for a large number of children and families who are otherwise without treatment.