Technologies for Autism: Mosoco, An Interactive Social Compass

January 4th, 2011  |  Published in Projects

Current ResearchersMonica Tentori, LouAnne Boyd, David H. Nguyen, and Gillian R. Hayes

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often demonstrate impairments in social skills. Social skills training is an effective way to develop age and functioning-level social skills to be used in a variety of situations. One successful curriculum that is currently in use in schools for teaching social skills to students with ASD is the Social Compass. The Social Compass is a behavioral and educational intervention for group settings that uses stories and paper-based visual cues that, like a compass, serve to “steer the child in the right direction” when interacting with others. Although this intervention has been used successfully in schools with demonstrated positive outcomes, there are still open questions as to how the children might apply their newly learned skills outside the classroom. However, there is currently limited support for this kind of mobile, dynamic instruction and support. To offset this challenge, in this project we are exploring how innovative computing technologies enable the use of the Social Compass curriculum outside classrooms.

Mobile and augmented reality technologies can provide children with autism with mobile and dynamic social instruction. We have recently developed a novel mobile-phone based intervention for children with autism, the Interactive Social Compass (iSoC) [Tentori and Hayes 2010]. iSoc is a mobile and augmented reality application, we designed and developed, to help children with autism to identify potential interaction partners, react when social ruptures occur, tag scenes and consult social cues for social guidance. By receiving this information through their own mobile devices, each child gets direct assistance and reinforcement for practicing their social skills. Meanwhile, every activity is logged in the background, enabling automatic report generation. We are in the process of evaluating this system in a public school at Orange County, CA, USA. The lessons learned from the study may help people creating mobile systems, particularly systems for social skills training and other autism interventions.

This work is supported by Nokia, the NSF, and UC Mexus. For more information, click here.

Recent papers and posters associated to this project include:

Escobedo, L., Nguyen, D.H., Boyd, L.A., Hirano, S.H., Rangel, A., Garcia, D., Tentori, M., and Hayes, G.R. MOSOCO: A Mobile Assistive Tool to Support Children with Autism Practicing Social Skills in Real-Life Situations. Proc CHI ’12.

Tentori, M., Boyd, L. and Hayes, G. R. A Mobile Social Compass. Poster presented at International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR), 2010.

Tentori, M. and Hayes, G. R. Designing for Interaction Immediacy to Enhance Social Skills of Children with Autism. Ubicomp 2010, 51-60

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