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Autism Spectrum Disorder: Targeting Weak Brain Skills

Ask the average American what autism spectrum disorder (ASD) looks like and they’ll probably describe a smart kid who’s a math genius but has few communication skills. While that may be the case for some, there’s a reason they now refer to autism as a “spectrum.”

In reality, the autism spectrum covers a wide range of deficits and functions. That’s why it can sometimes be difficult to diagnose. But when it comes to targeting the weak brain skills associated with ASD, a cognitive skills assessment can help identify the specific struggles.

  • What are cognitive skills?

Cognitive skills, also known as “brain skills,” are the fundamental tools we need to learn, read, remember, and pay attention. They include: attention, auditory processing, and memory, along with visual processing, logic & reasoning, and processing speed.

How does a cognitive skills assessment work?

Using a gold-standard of cognitive skills testing, it’s possible to identify which brain skills are weak. Although all cognitive skills can be affected, for people on the autism spectrum, it’s common to see weaker visual and auditory processing, memory and other executive functions.

How does personal brain training work?

Unlike digital brain games, one-on-one brain training uses customized exercises and incorporates immediate feedback, intensity, and loading, among other features, to target brain skills. And while tutoring is academics-based, personal brain training is skills-based. Tutoring does have its place: it can be effective when a student has fallen behind in specific subjects (such as history) due to an illness, injury or family move. But cognitive skills training targets the underlying skills—including attention, auditory processing, memory, logic & reasoning, processing speed and visual processing—needed to perform tasks (like reading) and make learning easier in any subject.

  • Has one-on-one brain training helped people autism?

Yes! We’ve had 90,000+ people go through our programs and we have helped strengthen brain skills for seniors, adults, teens, and children, including people with ASD. In a study of 300 autistic students who participated in LearningRx cognitive remediation programs for an average of 15.4 weeks, there was an average gain of 12.3 IQ points (as measured using the Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Cognitive Abilities) and 3.1 years in reading ability.