Computer-Based Learning Improves Performance of Autistic Children in Los Angeles United School District

Los Angeles, CA – TeachTown, an educational program for children with autism that combines computer lessons, non computer activities, data-collection features and a communication system, and the Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD) today released results of a clinical classroom trial of children with autism spectrum disorder enrolled in LAUSD classrooms. The findings included a significant increase in language, auditory processing, academics, and social skills compared to those students who were not introduced to the software.

Over the three month test period, students using TeachTown had up to 200 percent increases in performance scores on the software. In addition, TeachTown students gained two to five months more developmental growth than the control group students using the Brigance Assessment and with less one-on-one instruction.

The study included 47 children with autism, took place in four schools and consisted of four pre-school classes and four K-1 classes.

"I have seen students firsthand ‘talk to’ the TeachTown computer and become very animated when using the program. At this point at least 2000 or more students could potentially benefit from TeachTown in our district,” said Debbie Moss, Autism Specialist, LAUSD. “The teachers are loving it now. They’re seeing progress in the children. Attention and focus have improved. TeachTown ties into the pre-school curriculum and California standards, which is a big plus."

TeachTown was developed as a solution for learning challenges faced by children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. It works via animated images which appear on the computer monitor and teach children words and expressions. The interactivity permits the program to customize content to each individual student.

"The developmental progress far exceeds what would be expected. Some children had more than 30 month gains in specific learning areas like social understanding, in just three months with less than an hour a day of intervention, and a few children made so much progress that they have or near to having age-appropriate skills,” said Dr. Christina Whalen, Co-Founder, President, and Chief Science Officer, TeachTown. “I’ve always known the program was strongly grounded in science, but to see it in action in LAUSD classrooms and see just how incredible of an impact it has on students in a diverse public school setting is remarkable."

This was one of the largest teacher-delivered intervention studies and one of the only studies conducted in the classroom environment. Most studies are conducted in homes or laboratories.  

The study was funded by a grant from the National Center for Technology Innovation (NCTI) and included the Special Education Graduate School Program at California State Los Angeles as a partner in the study.  Additional analysis with further findings are expected to be released early 2010.

TeachTown ( is a comprehensive curriculum for children of developmental ages 2 through 6 and teaches language, cognitive, and social skills. The program was developed by autism expert Dr. Christina Whalen, with input from an advisory board with multidisciplinary expertise that includes applied behavior analysis, special education, developmental and clinical psychology, and speechlanguage pathology.

TeachTown provides evidencebased, Internetenabled interventions and learning solutions for school districts, educators, and clinicians so they can better serve those with special needs, those with language impairment, and the rapidly growing population of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.