Usability of Technology Supported Social Competence Training for Children on the Autism Spectrum


We present the results of two usability studies evaluating the use of collaborative technologies designed to facilitate children with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) learning social competence skills through technology-delivered CognitiveBehavioral Therapy (CBT). The first study examined a co-located games (Join-In Suite) run on a multi-user tabletop shared active surface (SAS). The second study collaborative virtual environment (CVE) designed to support understanding and practice of social conversation skills. Both prototypes were developed following a participatory design process that included focus groups of occupational therapists and teachers as well as children with ASC. Usability studies were then conducted where occupational therapists used the systems for social competence training during a single one hour session with pairs of children with high functioning ASC, aged 9-13 years. Outcome measures included two usability questionnaires, the Intrinsic Motivation Inventory and interviews with the children. Therapists’ responses to the System Usability Scale were also recorded. Results for SAS and CVE prototypes showed great enjoyment of the games, preferences amongst them and proficient use of the technology. For both technologies, the collaborative nature of the activities appeared to be effective in leveraging the engaging power of computer games as well as capturing a level of ecological validity which is often not sufficiently present in computer games alone. Keywords-Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC), collaborative games, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), Touch table, shared active surface (SAS), collaborative virtual environment (CVE)

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@inproceedings{Weiss2011UsabilityOT, title={Usability of Technology Supported Social Competence Training for Children on the Autism Spectrum}, author={Patrice L. Weiss and Eynat Gal and Massimo Zancanaro and Leonardo Giusti and Sue Cobb and Laura Millen}, year={2011} }