University of Calabria (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN14 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Pages: 6081-6087
ISBN: 978-84-617-0557-3
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 6th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 7-9 July, 2014
Location: Barcelona, Spain
According to current diagnostic criteria (DSM-V), children affected with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are characterized by absence of social communication, with difficulties in maintaining visual contact with people (Tsiopela & Jimoyiannis 2014; Nakano et al., 2013; Klin et al., 2009) and limited focus of attention on specific multisensory cues. Frequently detected deficits consist of a lack of social initiations and responses, social speech, empathy, and joint attention (Clifford and Dissanayake 2008; Rao et al. 2008; Schreibman 1988; Weiss and Harris 2001), which results in a deprivation of reaction and learning opportunities. Recent studies demonstrated that ASD subjects have strong preference for screen-based media (Mazureka et al., 2012; Galitsky, 2013) since they successfully use technologies for learning (Bertacchini et al., 2013; Cheng, 2009, 2010; Irish, 2013). Video modelling has been one of the best technologies used for capturing the attention of ASD children, allowing them a better understanding and learning. To facilitate the acquisition of skills that promote social interaction for ASD subjects (Schmidt et al, 2012; Valla and Belmonte, 2013), an interactive video modelling system with highly 3D realistic representations has been implemented.

Two real life scenarios, designed as video games, with the possibility to create a self-tailored avatar shapes a familiar home setting and an educational one.

This 3D video modeling system has been developed with the aim to support and help psychologists, therapists, teachers and families in teaching different social skills to children with ASD. The child watches short filmed clips of a model demonstrating the targeted behavior or behaviors and giving the opportunity to engage him in the targeted skill or skills. Hence, some specific skills can be acquired: to maintain the eye contact, to name objects and to develop communication.

For the educational scenario, a graphical lexicon has been implemented, which interactively helps ASD subjects to simple associate the image of the designed object with the word. The lexicon has been developed with a prompting system which immediately produces a reinforcement-based learning in associating the image of an object with the written word in very simple interactive stories, which can be easily varied by the educators.
Moreover, the system will be easy to access by users, since it can work on Mobile devices as well as PCs whit Android technology and tablet technology.

We think that this 3D virtual environment can really enhance the life quality of people with communicative disabilities and/or pervasive developmental disorders.
Virtual environments, Autism Spectrum Disorders, technology, assessment, video modelling.