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Research

The use of our technology is based on evidence

Families, clinicians, and educators looking to support individuals with ASD are faced with an overwhelming array of apps and other tech tools, many of which have not been studied for their effectiveness in improving core symptoms or quality of life in ASD. Floreo’s mission is not just to create innovative tools for the biggest challenges confronting individuals with ASD, but to work with academic researchers, educators, and therapists to demonstrate that such tools are effective and positively impact the lives of individuals with ASD and their families.

Our Experts in Research and Development

Dr. Sinan Turnacioglu, MD

Dr. Sinan Turnacioglu, MD

Chief Medical Officer

The Floreo Research program is headed by Sinan Turnaciouglu, MD.

Dr. Turnacioglu has had extensive experience caring for patients with autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and related neurodevelopmental disorders. He has served as an investigator in clinical pharmaceutical trials for autism spectrum disorder and Fragile X syndrome. He led efforts to provide diagnostic services to underserved children with neurodevelopmental disorders in Washington, DC, and launched the specialty clinic for individuals with Fragile X syndrome at Children’s National Health System. Recognizing the promise of Floreo as an innovative and engaging new intervention to support individuals with autism and related neurodevelopmental conditions, he joined the company as Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Turnacioglu grew up in New Jersey and currently lives in Bethesda, Maryland with his wife, two children, and their dog. He enjoys running, playing tabletop games, and reading.

Education and Training
  • 2012:  Fellowship Program, Pediatrics Neurodevelopmental Disabilities, Children’s National Medical Center
  • 2003:  Residency Program, Pediatrics, Georgetown University Medical Center
  • 2001:  Internship Program, Pediatrics, Georgetown University Medical Center
  • 2000:  MD, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
  • 1996:  BA, University of Pennsylvania

Board Certification: American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology-Child Neurology and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities

Rita Solórzano, MA, CCC-SLP

Rita Solórzano, MA, CCC-SLP

Director of Therapy Content

Development of therapy content is driven by Rita Solorzano, MA CCC-SLP. 

Ms. Solórzano is deeply committed to matching high quality clinical care with custom-fitted, “state-of-the-heart” interactions.  She particularly enjoys learning from each client and each family. Working as a Speech Language Pathologist since 1993 and working in special education since 1988, Rita has designed and delivered effective speech, language, literacy and social communication therapies for students and clients between the ages of 2 and 22. She has worked extensively with students with autism in a variety of settings including: private practices, special education schools, residential settings, regular education schools, Head Start programs, and a hospital diagnostic clinic. Throughout her career, she has been a participant in and witness to the evolving role of technology in creating therapies to address developmental issues. As Director of Therapy Content for Floreo Technology, she creates and oversees the development of virtual reality experiences to address social communication and sensory needs In her off-time, she cycles, plays guitar and ukulele and practices and teaches T’ai chi. She has co-authored a book on the use of T’ai chi principles to navigate challenging social situations.

Education

1992:  MA,Speech Language Pathology, University of Maryland

1988:  BA, Linguistics, SUNY Stony Brook

Meet Our Research Partners

Joseph McCleery, Ph.D.

Joseph McCleery, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Saint Joseph's University

Julia Parish-Morris, Ph.D.

Julia Parish-Morris, Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professor, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Center for Autism Research (CHOP)

Judith Miller, Ph.D.

Judith Miller, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Center for Autism Research (CHOP)

James E. Connell, Jr., PhD, NCSP, BCBA-D

James E. Connell, Jr., PhD, NCSP, BCBA-D

Associate Professor, Drexel University

Monica Osgood

Monica Osgood

Co-Founder & CEO, Celebrate the Children

Ashley Zitter

Ashley Zitter

Clinical Research Assistant, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Center for Autism Research (CHOP)

Keivan G. Stassun, Ph.D.

Keivan G. Stassun, Ph.D.

Professor, Vanderbilt University

Floreo’s Commitment To Evidence-Based Practices

Floreo is committed to research endeavors that will lead to evidence of clinical effectiveness of the system for improving skills in individuals with autism spectrum disorder and related disabilities. Two leading organizations, the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (NPDC) at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and the National Autism Center (NAC) at the May Institute, have put forward frameworks to define “evidence-based practice” in the context of ASD. Floreo’s research efforts will align with these published standards for evidence-based practice in autism, including the NPDC’s National Clearinghouse on Autism Evidence and Practice systematic review, and the NAC’s National Standards Project.

In terms of the NPDC framework, Floreo has completed two studies with two different groups of participants. To fulfill the NPDC criteria, Floreo needs to complete two additional single subject studies with at least one additional group of participants.

Source: https://autismpdc.fpg.unc.edu/what-criteria-determined-if-intervention-was-effective

The National Autism Center’s National Standards Project Phase 2 report, published in 2015, described Technology-based Intervention as an Emerging Intervention. The National Clearinghouse on Autism Evidence and Practice report noted the increased number of articles published on Technology-Aided Instruction and Intervention from 2012-2017 compared to the prior review period, 1990-2011, and lists Technology-Aided Instruction and Intervention as an evidence-based practice.

In terms of the NAC framework, Floreo is contributing to the development of the “Technology-based Intervention” category into an “Established” evidence-based practice.

Source: https://www.nationalautismcenter.org/national-standards-project/results-reports/

So far, Floreo has conducted one single case design study, assessing the change in foundational social communication skills in a group of students after participating in Floreo’s Joint Attention skill building program. Results of this pilot study were published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research Pediatrics and Parenting in 2019 – see publication #1 below.

In 2017, Floreo was awarded a Fast Track grant by NIH. The results of Phase I of this collaboration with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Autism Research, which centered on safety, were published in the August 2020 issue of the journal Autism Research  – see publication #2 below. Phase II of the project involves randomized controlled group studies of the effectiveness of the Police Safety skillbuilding program. Initial results of the first part of Phase II showed effectiveness in improving knowledge of and comfort level with law enforcement encounters, and were presented as an abstract at the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) virtual meeting in 2020 – see publication #3 below. This part of the project will be submitted for publication as a manuscript once data analysis has been fully completed. The second part of Phase II will center on effectiveness in a clinical setting and will be conducted using Floreo’s newly engineered remote delivery capability.

Next steps

Future research efforts will involve an additional single case design study, examining the impact of Floreo’s Building Social Connections program on learning outcomes in children in an educational setting, and randomized controlled group studies on the use of Floreo’s system in teletherapy and on school-aged social skill training.

 

Publications

1.0 Experiences with virtual reality-based training for joint attention: a usability and initial feasibility pilot of FloreoVR’s Joint Attention Module in a special education school setting.

Ravindran V, Osgood M, Sazawal V, Solorzano R, Turnacioglu S. Virtual Reality Support for Joint Attention Using the Floreo Joint Attention Module: Usability and Feasibility Pilot Study. JMIR Pediatrics and Parenting. 2019;2(2):e14429. doi:10.2196/14429. View Here

2.0 Immersive Virtual Reality to Improve Police Interaction Skills in Adolescents and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Parish-Morris, J., Solórzano, R., Ravindran, V., Sazawal, V., Turnacioglu, S., Zitter, A., Miller, J. & McCleery, J. (2018). Immersive Virtual Reality to Improve Police Interaction Skills in Adolescents and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Preliminary Results of a Feasibility and Safety Trial. Proc of the 23rd Annual CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy & Social Networking Conference, Gatineau, Canada. View here.

4.0 The State of Virtual and Augmented Reality Therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Turnacioglu, S., Sazawal, V., Solórzano, R., Parish-Morris, J., Zitter, A., Miller, J., McCleery, J., & Ravindran, V. (accepted for publication). The State of Virtual and Augmented Reality Therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Chapter in: Virtual and Augmented Reality in Mental Health Treatment, IGI Global. View here.

Conference Presentations

Oral presentation at the NODE Health Society for Digital Medicine Conference, New York, N.Y. 

Ravindran, V., Sazawal, V., Solorzano, R., & Turnacioglu, S. (2017, December). Floreo: VR Based Module for Joint Attention. Oral presentation at the NODE Health Society for Digital Medicine Conference, New York, N.Y. Awarded Top Evidence Based Pilot. View Here

Immersive Virtual Reality to Improve Police Interaction Skills in Adolescents and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Preliminary Results of a Feasibility and Safety Trial. Gatineau, Canada

Parish-Morris, J., Solórzano, R., Ravindran, V., Sazawal, V., Turnacioglu, S., Zitter, A., Miller, J. & McCleery, J. (2018, June). Immersive Virtual Reality to Improve Police Interaction Skills in Adolescents and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Preliminary Results of a Feasibility and Safety Trial. Oral presentation at the 23rd Annual CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy & Social Networking Conference, Gatineau, Canada. View Here

Using Cognitive-Behavioral Strategies to Motivate Individuals with Autism to Participate in an Immersive Virtual Reality Intervention. Washington, DC.

Zitter, A., Parish-Morris, J., Solorzano, R., Turnacioglu, S., Ravindran, V., Sazawal, V., & McCleery, J. (2018, November). Using Cognitive-Behavioral Strategies to Motivate Individuals with Autism to Participate in an Immersive Virtual Reality Intervention. Annual Convention of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Washington, D.C.

Follow this link for more information and to see the convention poster.

Prior Tech Experience and Motivation to Engage in Immersive Virtual Reality Intervention: A Study of Verbally Fluent Adolescents and Adults with Autism. Norfolk, VA.

Zitter, A., Parish-Morris (2019, June). Prior Tech Experience and Motivation to Engage in Immersive Virtual Reality Intervention: A Study of Verbally Fluent Adolescents and Adults with Autism. 24th Annual CyberPsychology, CyberTherapy & Social Networking Conference (CYPSY24), Norfolk,VA

Feasibility and Safety of Immersive Virtual Reality as a Tool to Improve Police Safety in Adolescents and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Montreal, QC, Canada.

Zitter, A. N., Solórzano, R., Turnacioglu, S., Miller, J. S., Ravindran, V., Parish-Morris, J., & McCleery, J. (2019, May). Feasibility and Safety of Immersive Virtual Reality as a Tool to Improve Police Safety in Adolescents and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Oral Presentation at the International Society for Autism Research, Montreal, QC, Canada.

Studies

Ongoing: Phase II of an NIMH Small Business Technology Transfer Program-funded collaboration with the Center for Autism Research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“Immersive Virtual Reality as a Tool to Improve Police Safety in Adolescents and Adults with ASD”
The goal of this project is to test the effectiveness of an immersive virtual reality intervention to improve police safety skills in adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder in the lab, and with community partners.
Clinicaltrials.gov: NCT03605368