The use of SymTrend in the study of Asperger's, autism, neurological disorders and brain injury recovery

Printer-friendly version


Dr. Minna Levine, President of SymTrend, Inc. will describe SymTrend and provide examples of research projects that have used the system with teens with Aspergers, children with lower functioning autism in substantially separate classrooms, teens who self-injure, and adults with neurological disorders/brain injury.

SymTrend is a web and mobile platform for creating and implementing data collection and guidance applications. Its development was funded in part by three STTRs from NIMH. It can be used by professionals and families to record behavioral observations and evaluate the impact of interventions. It has a site license with an authoring tool with which researchers can develop web and mobile instruments for their research. The authoring tool also enables design of graphic and tabular output for displaying individual participant/client progress data.

The authoring tool also enables construction of customized guidance tools - e-diaries that present clinician-recommended strategies contingent upon answers to questions. The latter guidance tools have been successfully implemented in projects with teens with Aspergers. Three groups have used these guidance tools as part of cognitive behavior therapy or social pragmatics/executive functioning/emotion self-regulation interventions with this population. The guidance screens can contain pictures from the client's life to make them more engaging.

Other useful features for research:
- Data can be collected online, on any Apple device, and on other phones with touch-based browsers.
- Projects with a site license have an administrative interface for creating accounts, monitoring activity in the accounts (uploads), linking participant accounts with researchers and/or other professionals, and assigning appropriate e-diaries to the participants.
- The graphs and tables displaying the data are produced as PDFs by the system so they can be easily shared with the families and host schools when necessary.
- A simple interface enables downloading of data from the system in a delimited file for use in a statistics package.
- Its "Care Record" can be used by families or professionals for entering non-diary information about medications, supplements, or other interventions/tests. These interventions can be displayed in graphics to ease examination of their impact on patient performance.
- Use of the system has been approved by several IRBs. The server for the website is in a locked cage at a co-location site in Marlborough, MA. Communication with the server is encrypted.


Minna Levine, OTR/L, PhD, President, has extensive experience in healthcare, data management, and clinical research. She has led workshops and has written on the use of mobile technology for monitoring care and self-management. Minna led the transformation of the SymTrend prototype into the SymTrend system. She also managed SymTrend's three small business grants from the National Institute of Mental Health and the development of its tools for individuals on the autism spectrum.

Invited by

Joanne S. Luciano