Research Article: To enforce or not to enforce? The use of collaborative interfaces to promote social skills in children with high functioning autism spectrum disorder
Ayelet, B. S. (2012). To enforce or not to enforce? the use of collaborative interfaces to promote social skills in children with high functioning autism spectrum disorder. Autism, doi: 10.1177/1362361312451526
The goal of this study was to examine whether a technological touch activated Collaborative Puzzle Game (CPG) increased positive social behaviors in children with high functioning autism spectrum disorder (HFASD). The CPG involved construction of a virtual puzzle by selecting and dragging pieces into the solution area on a touch screen table. The target picture was presented on the top of the screen. Six dyads of children with HFASD (aged 8-11 years) engaged in the CPG in a Free Play (FP) mode in which partners could independently move puzzle pieces versus in an Enforced Collaboration (EC) mode in which partners could only move puzzle pieces together. Videos of the dames were coded for the frequencies of positive and negative social interaction, affect, play, and autistic behaviors. Parents completed the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS).
Wilcoxon Signed-ranks tests indicated that children with HFASD showed significantly higher frequencies of positive social interaction and collaborative play in the EC versus FP modes but there were no differences in negative social behaviors. Differences in social behaviors between partners during the puzzle games were not significant; however there were differences within pair in the severity of social deficits as assessed by the SRS questionnaire.
The CPG in an EC mode was effective in promoting positive social interaction by requiring children to work together towards a mutual goal. However, the increased challenge in this mode, particularly for children with lower social-communication skills, suggests the need for establishing selection criteria and mediation steps for such interventions.