Application of technology to social communication impairment in childhood and adolescence

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Social communication impairment has been implicated in various mental health disorders. The primary aim of this review paper is to summarize the extant research on the development and application of technologies to address social communication deficits, conceptualized according to the four constructs outlined by the NIMH’s Research Domain Criteria (RDoC), transdiagnostically in children and adolescents. An exhaustive and systematic search yielded 69 peer-reviewed articles meeting all inclusion criteria (i.e., used technology, applied the technology to target impairment in at least one of four constructs of social communication, included a child or adolescent samples). We found limited use of technology for exploration of impairment in reception of non-facial communication, compared to the other social communication constructs. In addition, there has been an overwhelming focus on social communication impairment in children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), with relatively few studies evaluating technology application in other clinical populations. Implications for future directions for technological interventions to treat social communication impairments transdiagnostically are discussed.

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