CPAT in Autism

CPAT is built on the notion that atypicalities in attention can be present in different functions within the human brain, such as sustained attention (the ability to maintain attention focus over a prolonged time), selective-spatial attention (the ability to focus on relevant information while ignoring adjacent distracting stimuli) and executive attention (the ability to solve conflicts in the input, to inhibit irrelevant information, etc.). Indeed, previous research in autism have highlighted atypicalities in these functions in children and adults with Autism (Chien et al., 2015; Belmonte & Yurgelun-Todd, 2003; Geurts et al., 2009).

CPAT includes different training tasks (targeting different attention functions) that were developed in a fun and interactive manner to be used with children from 6 years of age and above who show difficulties in attention (Shalev et al. 2007). The tasks include different levels of difficulty that increase based on the individual’s performance. It also involves a tight schedule of feedbacks that promote learning and the association between the attentional effort and successful performance in the tasks.

Recently, we have demonstrated the benefit of using CPAT with children with autism within a school setting (Spaniol et al., 2018). The application of CPAT in this setting was similarly successful leading to clear academic improvement in maths, reading and writing. In a follow up study we are conducting in Brazil the same results were found with the addition that the improved academic performance is maintained at least 3 months following the end of the intervention (Spaniol et al., in prep.).


Spaniol, M.M., Shalev, L., Kosyvaky, L. & Mevorach, C. (2018). Attention Training in Autism as a Potential Approach to Improving Academic Performance: A School-Based Pilot Study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 48(2), 592–610

Shalev, L., Tsal Y., & Mevorach C. (2007) Computerized progressive attentional training (CPAT) program: Effective direct intervention for children with ADHD. Child Neuropsychology13, 382-388

Chien, Y. L., Gau, S. F., Shang, C. Y., Chiu, Y. N., Tsai, W. C., & Wu, Y. Y. (2015). Visual memory and sustained attention impairment in youths with autism spectrum disorders. Psychological Medicine, 45(11), 2263–2273.

Belmonte, M. K., & Yurgelun-Todd, D. A. (2003a). Functional anatomy of impaired selective attention and compensatory processing in autism. Cognitive Brain Research, 17(3), 651–664.

Geurts, H. M., Corbett, B., & Solomon, M. (2009). The paradox of cognitive flexibility in autism. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13(2), 74–82