Oculomotor control in children with Special Educational Needs (SEN): the development and piloting of a novel app-based therapeutic intervention

Rosie Clark*, Cathy E M Williams, Iain D Gilchrist

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
104 Downloads (Pure)


Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) often have impaired eye movement control which can impact on a wide range of everyday activities including in the classroom, socialising, participation in sport or crossing a road. Although some health practitioners offer eye movement therapies these tend not to have been systematically developed or evaluated. We have developed a new app to deliver eye movement training, based on detailed scientific understanding of eye movement control and extensive clinical experience with this patient group. We first investigated the acceptability of the app within several schools and made modifications based on detailed feedback from the children. Next, we conducted a pilot study to test the feasibility of using the app with 12 children (5–17 years old) who had SEN. The children successfully undertook app-based training for 10 min per day for 4–5 weeks. There was a high level of attendance and no attrition. We found some variation across participants in their ability to play on the app and the level of engagement. This indicates that pre-assessing children for ability and engagement may be important. This encouraging proof of concept study justifies the development of a full study. Given the time and money spent on existing commercially-offered or internet-based non-validated therapies, this would have substantial patient benefit regardless of the outcome: evidence of no effect could reassure parents that this kind of treatment was not needed, whilst evidence of effect suggests this as a useful treatment for children with poor oculomotor control.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)919-928
Number of pages10
JournalHeath and Technology
Issue number4
Early online date10 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work was funded by the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute Confidence in Concept grant from the University of Bristol (SSCM RD1977 3320).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • eye movements
  • therapeutic intervention
  • app
  • Saccades
  • fixation
  • smooth persuit


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