A Communication System on Smart Phones and Tablets for Non-verbal Children with Autism
We designed, developed and evaluated an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) system, AutVisComm, for children with autism that can run on smart phones and tablets. An iterative design and development process was followed, where the prototypes were developed in close collaboration with the user group, and the usability testing was gradually expanded to larger groups. In the last evaluation stage described here, twenty-four children with autism used AutVisComm to learn to request the desired object. We measured their learning rates and correlated them with their behavior traits (as observed by their teachers) like joint attention, symbolic processing and imitation. We found that their ability for symbolic processing did not correlate with the learning rate, but their ability for joint attention did. This suggests that this system (and this class of AACs) helps to compensate for a lack of symbolic processing, but not for a lack of joint-attention mechanism.
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