Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 33, Issue 6, pp 653-672

First online:

Development and Evaluation of a Computer-Animated Tutor for Vocabulary and Language Learning in Children with Autism

  • Alexis BosselerAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of California
  • , Dominic W. MassaroAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of California

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Using our theoretical framework of multimodal processing, we developed and evaluated a computer-animated tutor, Baldi, to teach vocabulary and grammar for children with autism. Baldi was implemented in a Language Wizard/Player, which allows easy creation and presentation of a language lesson involving the association of pictures and spoken words. The lesson plan includes both the identification of pictures and the production of spoken words. In Experiment 1, eight children were given initial assessment tests, tutorials, and reassessment tests 30 days following mastery of the vocabulary items. All of the students learned a significant number of new words and grammar. A second within-subject design with six children followed a multiple baseline design and documented that the program was responsible for the learning and generalization of new words. The research indicates that children with autism are capable of learning new language within an automated program centered around a computer-animated agent, multimedia, and active participation and can transfer and use the language in a natural, untrained environment.

Vocabulary learning animated tutor multimedia language learning animated speech tutoring children with autism computer