Navigation Links
Children with autism may learn from 'virtual peers'

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Using virtual peers -- animated life-sized children that simulate the behaviors and conversation of typically developing children -- Northwestern University researchers are developing interventions designed to prepare children with autism for interactions with real-life children.

Justine Cassell, professor of communication studies and electrical engineering and computer science, recently presented a preliminary study on the work at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Children with high-functioning autism may be able to give you a lecture on a topic of great interest to them but they cant carry on a contingent -- or two-way -- conversation, said Cassell, director of Northwesterns Center for Technology and Social Behavior.

Cassell and researcher Andrea Tartaro collected data from six children with high-functioning autism aged 7 to 11 as they engaged in play during an hour-long session with a real-life child, and with a virtual peer named Sam.

In an analysis of those interactions, they found that children with autism produced more and more contingent sentences when they spoke with the virtual peer, while their sentences did not become increasingly contingent when they were paired with the real-life children.

Certainly were not saying that virtual peers make the best playmates for children with autism, said Tartaro. The overall goal is for the children with autism to generalize the skills they learn in practice sessions with virtual peers to meaningful interactions with real-world children.

Nor are Northwestern researchers saying they can teach contingency -- appropriate back and forth conversation -- in a single session. But their findings hold promise that virtual peers can be useful in helping children with autism develop communication and social skills.

And virtual peers have some distinct advantages over real-life children when it comes to practicing social skills. For starters, children with autism often like technology. It interacts to us, said one child with autism upon first meeting a virtual peer.

Whats more, said Cassell, virtual peers dont get tired or impatient. We can program their conversation to elicit socially-skilled behavior, and we can vary the way that they look and behave so children with autism are exposed to different kinds of behavior.

Cassell and Tartaros study is part of larger efforts taking place in the Articulab, the Northwestern University laboratory where Cassell and colleagues explore how people communicate with and through technology.

In the Articulab, Cassell, who was trained as a psychologist and linguist, and Tartaro are teaming up with psychologist Miri Arie to develop assessment and intervention procedures that they hope will give them a better understanding of peer behaviors of children with autism.

A major challenge for children with autism is learning the rules of social behavior that typically developing children seem to learn intuitively.

Although childrens play appears spontaneous and wild, it follows certain basic social rules, said Arie. We hope virtual peers like Sam will allow children with autism to practice the rules behind joining a game, holding a conversation and maintaining social interaction. Then they can apply their newly acquired skills to real-life situations.


Contact: Wendy Leopold
Northwestern University

Related medicine news :

1. Children of depressed moms do better when dad is involved, SLU researcher finds
2. High pollution linked to poor lung function growth in children in Mexico City
3. NYC-area 1st: Morgan Stanley Childrens Hospital performs transcatheter pulmonary valve replacement
4. Obese Children Miss More School Days
5. Ultra-Runner to Run 63 Marathons in 63 Days for Children with Incurable Disease
6. Psoriasis Cure Now offers Back to School Resources for Parents of Children with Psoriasis
7. Researchers estimate about 9 percent of US children age 8 to 15 meet criteria for having ADHD
8. Majority of 2.4 Million U.S. Children With ADHD Not Diagnosed or Consistently Treated, According to New Gold Standard Study by Cincinnati Childrens Researchers
9. Practice-based intervention has sustained benefits for children and families
10. 1.5 million children could be saved
11. Annual flu shot cuts need for doctors visits, hospitalization among children
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Children with autism may learn from 'virtual peers'
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... November 26, 2015 , ... CognisantMD and Cambridge Memorial ... in the Waterloo region. Using the Ocean Platform, family physicians can now order ... electronic medical record (EMR) without the need for redundant patient entry or an ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... , ... The Catalent Applied Drug Delivery Institute today announced ... form selection in early phase drug development. The first of these is to ... the UK’s emerging life sciences companies, corporate partners, and investors, at Milton Park, ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... 26, 2015 , ... PRMA Plastic Surgery is updating their record books yet ... 6,000th free flap breast reconstruction surgery! , “What an accomplishment for the PRMA team, ... lives and it’s an honor to have served all of these women.” , PRMA ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... Viejo, CA (PRWEB) , ... November 26, 2015 ... ... users a new set of retro-fused, self-animating trailer titles with ProTrailer: Vintage. This ... style options. These classically-influenced trailer titles work with any font, giving users limitless ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... November 26, 2015 , ... Indosoft Inc., developer and distributor of ... server to improve system efficiency and reliability. , The new Q-Suite 6 platform is ... the system avoids locking itself into a specific piece of software for many key ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... , November 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... --> adds "Global ... and "Investigation Report on China Repaglinide ... 2021 forecasts data and information to ... . --> ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015 ... the "Global Brain Monitoring Devices Market ... --> ) has announced the ... Devices Market 2015-2019" report to their ... ( ) has announced the addition ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... N.C. , Nov. 25, 2015 ... the planned investment of at least $15.8  Million ... Wilmington, NC . The expansion ... capacity to meet the growing demands of the ... site expansion will provide up to ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: