, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 75-84
Date: 20 Feb 2009

Enhancing social communication of children with high-functioning autism through a co-located interface

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This study evaluated the effectiveness of a 3-week intervention in which a co-located cooperation enforcing interface, called StoryTable, was used to facilitate collaboration and positive social interaction for six children, aged 8–10 years, with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). The intervention focused on exposing pairs of children to an enforced collaboration paradigm while they narrated a story. Pre- and post-intervention tasks included a “low technology” version of the storytelling device and a non storytelling play situation using a free construction game. The outcome measure was a structured observation scale of social interaction. Results demonstrated progress in three areas of social behaviors. First, the participants were more likely to initiate positive social interaction with peers after the intervention. Second, the level of shared play of the children increased from the pre-test to the post-test and they all increased the level of collaboration following the intervention. Third, the children with ASD demonstrated lower frequencies of autistic behaviors while using the StoryTable in comparison to the free construction game activity. The implications of these findings are discussed in terms of the effectiveness of this intervention for higher functioning children with ASD.