A Smart-Phone Application and a Companion Website for the Improvement of the Communication Skills of Children with Autism: Clinical Rationale, Technical Development and Preliminary Results
- 1.3k Downloads
Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that is part of a group of disorders known as autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Today, one in 150 individuals is diagnosed with autism. Lack of social interaction and problems with communication are the main characteristics displayed by children with ASD. The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a communication system where children exchange visual symbols as a form of communication. The visual symbols are laminated pictures stored in a binder. We have designed, developed and are currently testing a software application, called PixTalk which works on any Windows Mobile Smart-phone. Teachers and caregivers can access a web site and select from an online library the images to be downloaded on to the Smart-phone. Children can browse and select images to express their intentions, desires, and emotions using PixTalk. Case study results indicate that PixTalk can be used as part of ongoing therapy.
KeywordsAutism spectrum disorder Mobile technology Health informatics Communication
We would like to thank the teachers and the parents of our subjects.
This work has been supported by two grants, “Using Smart-phones to Enable Interaction and Communication with Autistic Children” and “An Online Community for Teachers to Support, Observe, Collect and Evaluate Assisted Communication with Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder” both funded by Microsoft Research.
- 1.About Autism, Available at http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed on August 4, 2009.
- 2.Autism Spectrum Disorders Overview, Available at http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed on August 4, 2009.
- 6.Bondy, A. S., and Frost, L. A., The picture exchange communication system. Focus Autistic Behav. 9 (3)1–19, 1994.Google Scholar
- 9.Educational Technology, Available at http://edtech.wetpaint.com/page/Boardmaker?t=anon, Accessed on January 12, 2009.
- 13.Pyramid Educational Consultants, Available at http://www.pecs.org.uk/general/what.htm. Accessed on February 21, 2009.
- 14.Bondy, A., PECS:Potential benefits and risks. Behav Analyst Today. 2:127–132, 2001.Google Scholar
- 15.DynaVox Technologies, Available at http://www.dynavoxtech.com/, Accessed on December 13, 2008.
- 16.Cyrano communicator, Available at http://www.cyranocommunicator.com/, Accessed on November 24, 2008.
- 17.AbleLink Technologies, Winds of Change, Available at http://www.ablelinktech.com/_handhelds/, Accessed on December 4, 2008.
- 18.Figgis, J., Zubrick, A., Butorac, A., and Alderson, A., Backtracking practice and policies to research. In: DETYA (Ed.), The Impact of Educational Research: Research Evaluation Programme, Department of Educational Training and Youth Affairs (DETYA). Canberra: Higher Education Division, pp. 279–374, 2000.Google Scholar
- 19.Training and Youth Affairs, Commonwealth of Australia, December 2000.Toyama, K., “Guidelines for User-Centered Design,” Principal Researcher, Microsoft Technology for Emerging Markets Group, http://imaginecup.com/downloads/GuidelinesForUserCenteredDesign.pdf, 2008.
- 20.Leroy, G., and De Leo, G., Mobile communication and data gathering software for autistic children and their caregivers. Positive Design, Monterrey, Mexico, 2008.Google Scholar
- 21.De Leo, G., and Leroy, G., Smartphones to facilitate communication and improve social skills of children with severe autism spectrum disorder: Special education teachers as proxies. In Proceedings of workshop on "Designing for Children with Special Needs", in 7th Conference on Interaction Design for Children, June 11–13, 2008, Chicago, IL.Google Scholar
- 22.Moore D., Computers and people with autism. Communication (the magazine of The National Autistic Society), Summer, pp. 20–21, 1998.Google Scholar
- 23.Bernard-Opitz, V., Ross, K., and Tuttas, M. L., Computer assisted instruction for autistic children. Ann. Acad. Med. Singapore. 19 (5)611–618, 1990.Google Scholar
- 24.Chen, S. H., and Bernard-Opitz, V., Comparison of personal and computer-assisted instruction for children with autism. Ment. Retard. 31 (6)368–376, 1993.Google Scholar
- 27.Powell, S., The use of computers in teaching people with autism. autism on the agenda. In Papers from a National Autistic Society Conference, pages 128–132. National Autistic Society, 1996.Google Scholar