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Through the Looking Glass: Pretend Play for Children with Autism


Event TitleSession TitleChairRoomStartEnd
User Study and PerformanceMake It EasyAndreas DuenserH2-02 Hetzel Building Main Lecture Theatre03 Oct, 2013 11:00 AM03 Oct, 2013 12:30 PM
Zhen Bai
Alan Blackwell
George Coulouris
Lack of spontaneous pretend play is an early diagnostic indicator of autism spectrum conditions (ASC) along with impaired communication and social interaction. In a previous ISMAR poster [2] we proposed an Augmented Reality (AR) system to encourage pretend play, based on an analogy between imaginative interpretation of physical objects (pretense) and the superimposition of virtual content on the physical world in AR. This paper reports an empirical experiment evaluating that proposal, involving children between the ages of 4 and 7 who have been diagnosed with ASC. Results find significantly more pretend play, and higher engagement, using the AR system by comparison to a non-augmented condition. We also discuss usability issues and design implications for AR systems that aim to support children with ASC and other pervasive developmental disorders.