Academic journal article Journal of Evidence-Based Psychotherapies

Probogotchi: A Novel Edutainment Device as a Bridge for Interaction between a Child with Asd and the Typically Developed Sibling

Academic journal article Journal of Evidence-Based Psychotherapies

Probogotchi: A Novel Edutainment Device as a Bridge for Interaction between a Child with Asd and the Typically Developed Sibling

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

There has been a big transformation in game preferences of children with the rapid development of information and communication technology. In literature, there are a good number of researches supporting the role of computer games in the creation of educational environments (Kebritchi & Hirumi, 2008; Mitchell, 2004; Wasterfors, 2011). Since playing is a fundamental part of a child's overall development, educational computer games which are used effectively in education of typically developing children can also be used effectively in education of children with a developmental disorder (Wasterfors, 2011), such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The results of a recent meta-analysis (Grynszpan, Weiss, Perez-Diaz, & Gal, 2013) provide support for the continuing development, evaluation, and clinical usage of technology-based intervention for individuals with ASD. A systematic review (Ramdoss et al, 2011) showed that computer based interventions for children with ASD are a promising practice for improving their communication skills. Any learning process presupposes that children possess the motivation for sharing and exchanging mental states with others and that the challenge for therapists and parents is to elicit this motivation (Kozima, Nakagawa, & Yasuda, 2005). Although it is widely declared that this social motivation is impaired in autism (Chevallier, Kohls, Troiani, Brodkin, & Schultz, 2012) several studies hypothesized that ASD children can engage successfully in social interactions if social information is presented in an attractable manner (i.e. in a manner that is easily understood and clearly identifies the expected behaviours) (Quirmbach, Lincoln, Feinberg-Gizzo, Ingersoll, & Andrews, 2009). An increasing number of studies suggested that computer technology used as a teaching environment is well accepted by individuals with ASD (Moore & Calvert, 2000; Ploog, Scharf, Nelson, & Brooks, 2013). Some studies showed that some individuals with ASD show bigger interest for the instructions received from a computer, than to the ones from a human therapist (Bemard-Opitz, Sriram, & Nakhoda-Sapuan, 2001; Rahman, Ferdous, Ishtiaque Ahmed, & Anwar, 2011). Although there are not enough rigorous data to sustain a positive general therapeutic effect of social robots for ASD therapies, studies commonly declared that: (1) children with ASD enjoy the interaction with the robot and they are motivated to engage in the tasks assisted by the robot; (2) few children manifest anxious behaviours related to the robot or need time to habituate with it, even if they are in general sensitive to novel stimuli exposures; (3) the robot is able to trigger desirable social behaviours for majority of the children with autism (4) there are consistent data over the increased level of attention (i.e. more eye-contact behaviours) with a robot compared with a human partner during interactions and (5) robots could be used as a social mediator between the child and another human and to encourage play skills in children with ASD (Albo-Canals et al., 2013; Diehl, Schmitt, Villano, & Crowell, 2012; Goodrich et al., 2012; Kim et al., 2013; Pradel, Dansart, Puret, & Barthélémy, 2010; Robins, Dautenhahn, & Dickerson, 2009; Scassellati, Admoni, & Mataric, 2012; Tapus et al., 2012; Vanderborght et al., 2012).

This paper presents the mixed reality game Probogotchi (see Fig. 1) and its potential utility as an educational tool to encourage social skills in children with ASD in interaction with their peers. Due to the following innovations which this interactive game combines, we consider that Probogotchi could represent an added-value in encouraging social skills in children with ASD and potentially offering a solution to the transfer of skills challenge in ASD interventions field:

(1) The embodiment as tangible intuitive interface

Probogotchi is a way to play a computer game by an embodied device instead of only a virtual character. …

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