Background: People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) commonly experience symptoms related to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), including hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity. One-third of ASD cases may be complicated by the presence of ADHD. Individuals with dual diagnoses face greater barriers to accessing treatment for ADHD and respond less positively to primary pharmacologic interventions. Nonpharmacologic technology-aided tools for hyperactivity and inattention in people with ASD are being developed, although research into their efficacy and safety remains limited.
Objective: The objective of this preliminary study was to describe the changes in ADHD-related symptoms in children, adolescents, and young adults with ASD immediately after use of the Empowered Brain system, a behavioral and social communication aid for ASD running on augmented reality smartglasses.
Methods: We recruited 8 children, adolescents, and young adults with ASD (male to female ratio of 7:1, mean age 15 years, range 11.7-20.5 years) through a Web-based research signup form. The baseline score on the hyperactivity subscale of the Aberrant Behavioral Checklist (ABC-H), a measure of hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity, determined their classification into a high ADHD-related symptom group (n=4, ABC-H≥13) and a low ADHD-related symptom group (n=4, ABC-H<13). All participants received an intervention with Empowered Brain, where they used smartglasses-based social communication and behavioral modules while interacting with their caregiver. We then calculated caregiver-reported ABC-H scores at 24 and 48 hours after the session.