A Computer-based Social Intervention for Students with High Functioning ASD: Using Technology to Improve Special Education
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1901 N Harrison Ave STE 200, Cary, NC, 27513-
AbstractPurpose: Students with high functioning autism spectrum disorders (HF-ASD) face unique challenges with social skills and social relationships, often experiencing heightened levels of social isolation and exclusion from social opportunities. Without intervention, these social difficulties can interfere significantly with students’ ability to engage in and learn at school. However, few social interventions are available that are both evidence-based and feasible to implement in a school. Further, products that allow educators to simultaneously implement a social intervention and measure its impact on students’ social functioning are lacking. This project will develop a fully interactive computer-based social intervention for elementary school students with HF-ASD. Project Activities: The development process will entail designing graphics for the characters and scenery, scripting the hierarchy of dialog and behavioral menu choices available to the student, defining the scoring algorithms for assessing social problem solving, and integrating instructional content. The research team will use a mixed-meth design to assess the prototype with 45 students and a group of teachers, and then make iterative refinements based on feedback. After development is complete, research will assess the feasibility and usability, and promise of the product to improve social functioning in 50 special education classrooms. Half of the classrooms will be randomly assigned to participate in SST while the other half will receive services as usual over a period of two months. Measures will include student attitudes and behaviors relating to social skills and decision making.
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