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Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 47, Issue 11, pp 3405–3417 | Cite as

A Pilot Study Assessing Performance and Visual Attention of Teenagers with ASD in a Novel Adaptive Driving Simulator

  • Joshua Wade
  • Amy Weitlauf
  • Neill Broderick
  • Amy Swanson
  • Lian Zhang
  • Dayi Bian
  • Medha Sarkar
  • Zachary Warren
  • Nilanjan Sarkar
Original Paper

Abstract

Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), compared to typically-developed peers, may demonstrate behaviors that are counter to safe driving. The current work examines the use of a novel simulator in two separate studies. Study 1 demonstrates statistically significant performance differences between individuals with (N = 7) and without ASD (N = 7) with regards to the number of turning-related driving errors (p < 0.01). Study 2 shows that both the performance-based feedback group (N = 9) and combined performance- and gaze-sensitive feedback group (N = 8) achieved statistically significant reductions in driving errors following training (p < 0.05). These studies are the first to present results of fine-grained measures of visual attention of drivers and an adaptive driving intervention for individuals with ASD.

Keywords

Autism spectrum disorders Driving simulation Driving intervention Gaze-sensitive 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation under Grant 967170 and by the National Institutes of Health under Grant 1R01MH091102-01A1. The authors would also express great appreciation to the participants and their families for assisting in this research. Although the manuscript text is wholly original, the work discussed here has been presented (1) at technical and autism-focused conferences, including Human Computer Interaction International and International Meeting for Autism Research, (2) in peer-reviewed engineering journals (ACM Transactions on Interactive Intelligent Systems, and IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing), and (3) in the master’s thesis of author Joshua Wade.

Funding

This study was funded by National Institutes of Health Grant Number 1R01MH091102-01A1 and National Science Foundation Grant Number 967170.

Author Contributions

JW implemented large portions of the software used in the driving simulator, oversaw all experiments, conducted all data analyses, and drafted the technical portions of the manuscript. NS and ZW conceived of the study, crafted the experimental design, and revised the manuscript. LZ and DB provided major software modules for eye tracking and physiological data acquisition, respectively, and also aided in conducting experiments. MS provided consultations regarding software engineering, 3D-modeling, and algorithm design. AW, NB, and AS provided major design considerations for the driving simulator from a clinical perspective, managed recruitment of participants, drafted portions of the manuscript, and aided in several rounds of editing and revision. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human subjects were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent/assent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joshua Wade
    • 1
  • Amy Weitlauf
    • 2
  • Neill Broderick
    • 3
  • Amy Swanson
    • 2
  • Lian Zhang
    • 4
  • Dayi Bian
    • 4
  • Medha Sarkar
    • 5
  • Zachary Warren
    • 3
  • Nilanjan Sarkar
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum DisordersVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of Pediatrics and PsychiatryVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  4. 4.Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer ScienceVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  5. 5.Department of Computer ScienceMiddle Tennessee State UniversityMurfreesboroUSA

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