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Investigating A Virtual Tutor Approach Cape

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Investigating a ‘virtual tutor’ approach for improving the communication skills of children with autism, presented to ALT-C 2009 Manchester University, 8th September 2009

Investigating a ‘virtual tutor’ approach for improving the communication skills of children with autism, presented to ALT-C 2009 Manchester University, 8th September 2009

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  • 1. Paul Herring, Dr Kieron Sheehy and Dr Roger Jones Investigating a ‘virtual tutor’ approach for improving the communication skills of children with autism
  • 2. Autism and the triad of impairments
  • 3. Diagnosis and beyond
    • On average children with autism are diagnosed from about 3 years old (Baron-Cohen, 2008)
    • Access to interventions is often delayed until the child enters the education system
    • Current research suggests early intervention increases the chances of a positive prognosis in later life (Wetherby & Woods, 2006)
  • 4. Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
  • 5. The advantages of PECS
    • the communication exchange is easily understood by communicator and communication partner
    • the communication is meaningful and highly motivating for the child with autism
    • PECS has been shown to promote spontaneous symbol communication
    Bondy & Frost, (1995)
  • 6. Are there any benefits to Computer based teaching methods?
    • Improved attention and motivation
    • curiosity and length of time spent on a subject
    • promote spontaneous commenting
    • A reduction in echolalia and inappropriate behaviour
    • Williams et al (2002)
  • 7. Computer Assisted Picture Exchange (CAPE)
    • Provide avatar led teaching environment to teach symbol based communication to children with autism
    • Allow participants to interact with CAPE using physical symbols as a method of participant input
    • Provide an easy to use and engaging environment for children with autism
  • 8. The CAPE prototype interface
  • 9. CAPE user testing
  • 10. Future Work
    • A preliminary study to understand how an avatar’s voice type may influence participant engagement
    • A five week study to understand if CAPE can enhance symbol based communication for children with autism
  • 11. Thank you for listening
  • 12. References
    • Baron-Cohen, S. (2008). Making the diagnosis. Autism and Asperger syndrome. Oxford, UK, Oxford University Press , Pp 37
    • Bondy, A. Frost., L. (2002). The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS): initial training. A Picture's Worth PECS and Other Visual Communication Strategies in Autism. Bethesda, MD, USA, Woodbine House Inc : 67-90.
    • Gong, L. Lai, J. (2003). "To mix or not to mix synthetic speech and human speech? Contrasting impact on judge-rated task performance versus self-rated performance and attitudinal responses." International Journal of Speech Technology 6(2): 123-131.
    • Wetherby, A. Woods, J. (2006). "Early Social Interaction Project for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders Beginning in the Second Year of Life: A Preliminary Study." Topics in Early Childhood Special Education 26(2): 67-82.
    • Williams, C. Wright, B. Callaghan, G. Coughlan, B. (2002). "Do children with autism learn to read more readily by computer assisted instruction or traditional book methods? A pilot study." Autism 6(1): 71-91.

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