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Engagement with Electronic Screen Media Among Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Abstract

This study investigated the relative engagement potential of four types of electronic screen media (ESM): animated video, video of self, video of a familiar person engaged with an immersive virtual reality (VR) game, and immersion of self in the VR game. Forty-two students with autism, varying in age and expressive communication ability, were randomly assigned to the experimental conditions. Gaze duration and vocalization served as dependent measures of engagement. The results reveal differential responding across ESM, with some variation related to the engagement metric employed. Preferences for seeing themselves on the screen, as well as for viewing the VR scenarios, emerged from the data. While the study did not yield definitive data about the relative engagement potential of ESM alternatives, it does provide a foundation for future research, including guidance related to participant profiles, stimulus characteristics, and data coding challenges.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Electronic screen media (ESM) include media for the television screen, as used for television and movie viewing, and the computer monitor, as used for computer applications (Shane and Albert 2008).

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Acknowledgments

This work was conducted on behalf of the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education. The authors are grateful to the students, families, and educational personnel associated with the following programs of the Bucks County Intermediate Unit #22: Maple Point Middle School, McDonald Elementary School, Pearl S. Buck Elementary School, Pennwood Middle School, Tawanka Learning Center, William Penn Middle School, and Willowdale Elementary School, and the Francis Harvey Green School of Delaware County Intermediate Unit #25.

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Correspondence to Beth A. Mineo.

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Mineo, B.A., Ziegler, W., Gill, S. et al. Engagement with Electronic Screen Media Among Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. J Autism Dev Disord 39, 172–187 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-008-0616-0

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Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Video
  • Visual media
  • Engagement
  • Virtual reality