Title page for ETD etd-04012011-131210

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Kane, Jessi Lynn
Author's Email Address kane8@vt.edu
URN etd-04012011-131210
Title Exploration of Computer Game Interventions in Improving Gaze Following Behavior in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Degree Master of Science
Department Industrial and Systems Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Winchester, Woodrow W. III Committee Chair
Scarpa-Friedman, Angela Committee Member
Smith-Jackson, Tonya L. Committee Member
  • gaze following
  • autism spectrum disorders
  • interaction design
  • inclusive design
Date of Defense 2011-03-21
Availability unrestricted
Statistics show the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a developmental delay disorder, is now 1 in 110 children in the United States (Rice, 2009), nearing 1% of the population. Therefore, this study looked at ways modern technology could assist these children and their families. One deficit in ASD is the inability to respond to gaze referencing (i.e. follow the eye gaze of another adult/child/etc), a correlate of the responding to joint attention (RJA) process. This not only affects the way they appear to society, but it also affects social development, communication skills, and play skills later in life (Whalen & Schreibman, 2003), making early intervention of RJA is an integral part of a successful social skills program.

This study developed design guidelines, as well as offered and evaluated a design framework, adding to the limited literature regarding technology and ASD intervention. The game was developed within behavior analytic framework, undergoing several iterations, developing a functional prototype that was analyzed in three parts. The first part identified which elements needed redesign in light of the study population. Second, a collaborative prototyping participatory design group was formed in which the elements from the previous part of the study were assigned guidelines. The final part of the study included an evaluation by those with ABA experience, evaluating if the game correctly encompassed and mirrored traditional face-to-face ABA interventions. The study’s contributions were the finalized design guidelines and design framework, as well as additional research on harnessing technology in ASD interventions.

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