Simulating Social Interaction to Address Deficits of Autistic Spectrum Disorder in ChildrenBy Trepagnier, Cheryl Y.; Sebrechts, Marc M.; Finkelmeyer, Andreas; Stewart, Willie; Woodford, Jordana; Coleman, Maya; CyberPsychology & Behavior, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 213-217
Publication Date: April 2006
Article focuses on the Virtual Buddy Project, which was designed to provide reinforcement for attention to the face and eyes for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Autism is characterized by impairments in social interaction, language, and behavior, while the researchers believe that early intervention in these areas has the potential to push children with ASD onto more typical paths. Eye contact is one area of social interaction that can be affected in children with ASD. The Virtual Buddy system is meant to be used as soon as possible following a diagnosis of ASD. The system gives the child a series of rewards based upon successful eye gaze, as the image of a person on a screen serves as the Virtual Buddy, while the child’s gaze controls interactions via reward delivery. Rewards can include a wide range of visual and auditory responses, including video segments. An ISCAN eye tracking system is used to track the child’s gaze, as it is mounted below a flat-panel monitor placed in front of a car seat. The length of the child’s gaze determines which rewards are given. The authors contend that the system was not designed as an alternative to interaction with real children, but rather a supplement. This paper was written by researchers at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.
Published by: Mary Ann Liebert Publishers, Incorporated (Website:http://www.liebertpub.com)