Social Communication between Virtual Characters and Children with Autism

  • Alyssa Alcorn
  • Helen Pain
  • Gnanathusharan Rajendran
  • Tim Smith
  • Oliver Lemon
  • Kaska Porayska-Pomsta
  • Mary Ellen Foster
  • Katerina Avramides
  • Christopher Frauenberger
  • Sara Bernardini
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 6738)

Abstract

Children with ASD have difficulty with social communication, particularly joint attention. Interaction in a virtual environment (VE) may be a means for both understanding these difficulties and addressing them. It is first necessary to discover how this population interacts with virtual characters, and whether they can follow joint attention cues in a VE. This paper describes a study in which 32 children with ASD used the ECHOES VE to assist a virtual character in selecting objects by following the character’s gaze and/or pointing. Both accuracy and reaction time data suggest that children were able to successfully complete the task, and qualitative data further suggests that most children perceived the character as an intentional being with relevant, mutually directed behaviour.

Keywords

autism spectrum disorder virtual environment virtual character joint attention social communication technology-enhanced learning HCI 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    DSM-IV, A.P.A.T.F.: DSM-IV: Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. American Psychiatric Association, Washington, DC (1994)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Rajendran, G., Mitchell, P.: Text Chat as a Tool for Referential Questioning in Asperger Syndrome. J. of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 49, 102–112 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Schmidt, C., Schmidt, M.: Three-dimensional virtual learning environments for mediating social skills acquisition among individuals with autism spectrum disorders. In: IDC 2008: Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children, pp. 85–88. ACM, New York (2008)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Parsons, S., Mitchell, P., Leonard, A.: The use and understanding of virtual environments by adolescents with autistic spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 34(4), 449–466 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Tartaro, A., Cassell, J.: Playing with virtual peers: bootstrapping contingent discourse in children with autism. In: ICLS 2008: Proceedings of the 8th International Conference for the Learning Sciences, pp. 382–389. International Society of the Learning Sciences (2008)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Foster, M., Avramides, K., Bernardini, S., Chen, J., Frauenberger, C., Lemon, O., Porayska-Pomsta, K.: Supporting Children’s Social Communication Skills through Interactive Narratives with Virtual Characters. In: Proc. of the ACM Multimedia Conference (2010)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Goldman, A., Vignemont, F.: Is social cognition embodied? Trends in Cognitive Sciences 13(4), 154–159 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Porayska-Pomsta, K., Bernardini, S., Rajendran, G.: Embodiment as a means for Scaffolding Young Children’s Social Skill Acquisition. In: Proc. IDC 2009 (2009)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Porayska-Pomsta, K., Frauenberger, C., Pain, H., Rajendran, G., Smith, T.J., Menzies, R., Foster, M.E., Alcorn, A., Wass, S., Bernadini, S., Avramides, K., Keay-Bright, W., Chen, J., Waller, A., Guldberg, K., Good, J., Lemon, O.: Developing Technology for Autism: an interdisciplinary approach. Personal and Ubiquitious Computing (in press)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Sigman, M., Ruskin, E.: Continuity and change in the social competence of children with autism, Down syndrome, and developmental delays. Wiley-Blackwell, Malden (1999)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Charman, T.: Why is joint attention a pivotal skill in autism? Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences 358, 315–324 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Behne, T., Carpenter, M., Tomasello, M.: One-year-olds comprehend the communicative intentions behind gestures in a hiding game. Developmental Science 8(6), 492–499 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Pellicano, E., Macrae, C.N.: Mutual eye gaze facilitates person categorization for typically developing children, but not for children with autism. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 16(6), 1094–1099 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Tomasello, M., Carpenter, M., Liszkowski, U.: A new look at infant pointing. Child Development 78(3), 705–722 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Lord, C., Rutter, M., DiLavore, D., Risi, S.: Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). Western Psychological Services, Los Angeles (1999)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alyssa Alcorn
    • 1
  • Helen Pain
    • 2
  • Gnanathusharan Rajendran
    • 3
  • Tim Smith
    • 4
  • Oliver Lemon
    • 1
  • Kaska Porayska-Pomsta
    • 5
  • Mary Ellen Foster
    • 1
  • Katerina Avramides
    • 5
  • Christopher Frauenberger
    • 6
  • Sara Bernardini
    • 5
  1. 1.Heriot Watt UniversityUK
  2. 2.University of EdinburghUK
  3. 3.Strathclyde UniversityUK
  4. 4.Birkbeck CollegeUK
  5. 5.London Knowledge LabUK
  6. 6.University of SussexUK

Personalised recommendations