Children with autism show certain combinations of atypical communication, social interaction, and restricted repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, and activities. We need to help them create the motivation and we do this initially by developing a common understanding of a way of being which is more effective when it is child-led. Valuing the presence of another person and feeling emotionally comfortable within the environment has to be at the core of developing communication and reciprocal interaction before embarking on language acquisition.
The main objective is to provide an interactive product that facilitates social skills of children with autism through sensorial feedbacks, which can motivate them. Children with autism often enjoy specific sensations. Although these children can be highly sensitive, or insensitive, to stimuli, they truly enjoy sensory rewards, such as sounds, music, vibration, and deep pressure. Interactive multisensory systems (e.g., wearable or portable) allow users to have bodily and sensorial interactions with their outer world to support users’ social skills. By embedding computer intelligence into physical objects, several aspects can help the children enjoy their play in a predictable way.
The child needs to recognize the facilitator as part of that environment with whom they should interact with. In turn the facilitator has to be willing to engage in playful activities with the child that are not necessarily based around a specific task or activity. Once that trust has been established, the child with autism will be motivated to interact, not just with the objects around him or her but with the person they are with as well. At the core of all communication is the motivational desire to interact.
Who Are We?
Me and Valerio Sperati met in March 2014 during my visit to their laboratory (LOCEN – Laboratory of Computational Embodied Neuroscience, coordinated by Gianluca Baldassarre) in The Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, National Research Council of Italy. Since I’m an interaction designer and he is a Psychologist and a programmer, we thought that if we worked together it could be a good idea in terms of developing the concept that I had been thinking for a long time. We started to create the earlier prototype in his laboratory where we had access to various equipment and materials.