Motivating Children with Autism to Communicate and Interact Socially Through the "+me" Wearable Device

Autism Spectrum Disorder (henceforth ASD or simply autism) is increasingly considered a pervasive neurodevelopmental disorder responsible for social impairments, certain types of dysfunctional repetitive behaviors, and impairments of the ability to communicate. Here we focus in particular on the support and development of social competence in children.
The attention on design for children with autism should be directed to make the child feel emotionally comfortable within the environment, to value the presence of others, and to develop basic communication and reciprocal interaction skills before embarking in supporting the acquisition of complex linguistic skills. New technological systems support children in working together on specific tasks and promote the acquisition of social interaction skills such as turn-­-taking, sharing (e.g., passing the device to a partner) and negotiation.
Recently, the study of ASD has also been corroborated by the emergence of new approaches using computational models and artificial agents (robots or avatars) to study sensorimotor development in ASD. The development of new technologies has also contributed to improve emotion recognition in ASD individuals enhancing their social skills.
Interactive products are opening up new learning and playing opportunities for children with autism. A key element of these products is the need to be able to motivate the child to use them. Indeed, the motivational desire to interact is at the core of all communication behaviors.
Activities that children feel passionate about will be much better at motivating their learning processes.
Although autistic children can be highly sensitive, or insensitive, to stimuli, they truly enjoy sensory rewards, such as sounds, music, vibration, and deep pressure. This work presents a project whose main objective is to provide an interactive mechatronic prototype, called "+me", that facilitates social interaction and supports the development of social skills of children with autism by leveraging highly motivating sensorial feedbacks.
The "+me" device could be used to explore new hypothesis on social behavior improvements, based on recent pioneering studies highlighting the relationship between sensory and motor deficits and impairment in social function in autism.

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Ozcan Beste
Sperati Valerio
Caligiore Daniele
Baldassarre Gianluca
, Italia
Nea Science - Giornale Italiano di neuroscienze, psicologia e riabilitazione 5 (2014): 59–65.
info:cnr-pdr/source/autori:Ozcan Beste, Sperati Valerio, Caligiore Daniele, Baldassarre Gianluca/titolo:Motivating Children with Autism to Communicate and Interact Socially Through the "+me" Wearable Device/doi:/rivista:Nea Science - Giornale Italiano di
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