TouchStory: Towards an Interactive Learning Environment for Helping Children with Autism to Understand Narrative

  • Megan Davis
  • Kerstin Dautenhahn
  • Chrystopher Nehaniv
  • Stuart D. Powell
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 4061)


Children with autism exhibit a deficit in the comprehension and creation of narrative which impacts their social world. Our ongoing research agenda is to find ways of developing interactive learning environments which enhance the ability of individual children with autism to deal with narrative and thus the social world. The study reported here involved 12 children in a longitudinal study which focussed on identifying the particular aspects of narrative which individual children found difficult. Our aim was to investigate each individual child’s understanding of ‘primitive’ components of narrative by means of an interactive software game called TouchStory which we developed for this purpose. Our results show, for most of the children, an ongoing and clear distinction in their understanding of the various narrative components, which relates their narrative comprehension as shown by a picture-story based narrative comprehension task.


Individual Child Pervasive Developmental Disorder Narrative Comprehension Interactive Learn Environment Session Child 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Frith, U.: Explaining the Enigma, Blackwells (1989)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Powell, S.D.: Autism. In: Messer, D.J., Millar, S. (eds.) Developmental Psychology, Cambridge, pp. 243–261 (1999)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Wing, L.: The Autistic Spectrum: A Guide for Parents and Professionals, Constable, London (1996)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Tager-Flushberg, H., Sullivan, K.: Attributing mental states to story characters: A comparison of narratives produced by autistic and mentally retarded individuals. Applied Psycholinguistics 16, 241–256 (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Capps, L., Losh, M., Thurber, C.: The Frog Ate the Bug and Made his Mouth Sad; Narrative Competence in Children with Autism. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 18(2), 193–204 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Abell, F., Happe, F., Frith, U.: Do triangles play tricks? Attribution of mental states to animated shapes in normal and abnormal development. Cognitive Development (15), 1–15 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bruner, J., Feldman, C.: Theories of mind and the problem of autism. In: Baron-Cohen, S. (ed.) Understanding other minds: perspectives from autism, Oxford University Press, Oxford (1993)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Dautenhahn, K.: The Origins of Narrative: In Search for the Transactional Format of Narratives in Humans and Other Social Animals. International Journal of Cognition and Technology: Co-existence, Convergence, Co-evolution 1(1), 97–123 (2002)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Hutto, D.: Folk Psychological Narratives and the Case of Autism. Philosophical Papers 32(3), 345–361 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Aurora. Aurora. 2000 [cited May 2004], Available from:
  11. 11.
    Bruner, J.: Actual Minds, Possible Worlds. Harvard University Press (1986)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Paris, P., Paris, P.: Assessing Narrative Comprehension in Young Children. Reading Research Quarterly 38(1), 36–76 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Davis, M., et al.: Towards an interactive system eliciting narrative comprehension in children with autism: A longitudinal study. In: Clarkson, P., Langdon, P., Robinson, P. (eds.) Designing Accessible Technology, Springer, London (2006)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Megan Davis
    • 1
  • Kerstin Dautenhahn
    • 1
  • Chrystopher Nehaniv
    • 1
  • Stuart D. Powell
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Computer ScienceAdaptive Systems Research Group 
  2. 2.Department of EducationUniversity of HertfordshireHatfield, HertfordshireUK

Personalised recommendations