NEW TECHNOLOGIES AND AUTISM: CAN AUGMENTED REALITY (AR) INCREASE THE MOTIVATION IN CHILDREN WITH AUTISM?
Autism is a behavioral syndrome which has serious consequences in many areas, in particular on the interactions with other people. In the history of research on autism, the main focus was to improve skills of subject to interact with environment, in particular by increasing motivation (S.Williams, White & K. Keonig, 2006). Children with autism have serious difficulties to expand the pool of interests, which, unfortunately, is really limited (RL Koegel, M Mentis, 1985). Of course, a stimulant environment can help the children to improve their capabilities to communicate, assisting them in the interactions with other people and objects (SS Zentall, TR Zentall, 1983) . Many studies were focused to explore how environmental enrichment can help children with autism to open up and experiment new preferences, to enrich the repertoire of requests (MAND) and to be more motivated to explore new knowledge and relations (Wong C et al., 2015; Ramdoss S. et al, 2011; Ramdoss S et al, 2012; ML Sundberg, J Michael, 2001). All this must be contextualized in our time, when computers, tablet and a lot of new technologies have come in daily life and can be a great help in research (Ramdoss S et al, 2012; Tanaka JW et al., 2010; Ayres KM et al., 2009). But the question is: how? and what are the best ones? And can they really increase the motivation of the child?
The main limit of VR, the fact of being too insulating for children, it seems be overcome by augmented reality (AR). AR is a technology that lets you to insert digitally generated elements into real-life. more simply, the child can see something virtually created in front of him as if it were real. (Escobedo L et al., 2014; Silva CA et al., 2015).
On the bases of this issue, we can expect that this technology can help children to have an increased impact on the world around them. Indeed if we have knowledge about preferences/reinforcement of children, we can create a "reality" more stimulating for the child where he can move and above all be motivated to expand his repertoire of requests / knowledge / preference. Many researches has shown that AR as well as offering a richer environment can ease communication and are more usable that VR or others technologies (like SGD) (Runpeng Liu et al., 2017). However, the question that we ask is: can really AR develop the motivation of the child? Can children be stimulated to request something that they can't see in the environment? Despite the various studies conducted so far, the hypotheses of literature have not yet depth how new technologies can increase MOs (Motivation operations). MOs are extremely related to the demands (MAND) of the child, so, very important to evoke a behavior (Jack Michael, 1982; K Endicott et al., 2007).
We expect AR to have serious repercussions on the way children with autism learn.