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The efficacy of technology in interactive social skill learning for persons with autism

Špela Grižonič Lesar (2021) The efficacy of technology in interactive social skill learning for persons with autism. MSc thesis.

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    Background Autism is a pervasive developmental condition introducing deficits in three distinct areas of individuals’ life, i.e. social functioning, lan-guage and repetitive behaviors. With limited understanding of its aetiology the research community is still in search for its fulcrum under the assumption that if this derailed development could be intercepted, we could influence the overall outcome. In the course of this pursuit there is a collective agree-ment among clinical professionals and members from autism community that there is a need for intervention in the domain of social functioning that would enable these individuals to lead more independent and average lives. This population has been recognized as limited in their social component with a predominant inclination towards computer-mediated interactions. This recognition led the researchers to attempt conveying therapeutic content using various technology mediums. Method This interdisciplinary exercise started off by exploration of indi-vidual research fields involved in autism-focused assistive technology. Intro-ductory literature from autism and assistive technology provided me with the vocabulary for further more focused searches. To understand the conver-gence of the two research fields, research included normative social develop-ment as well as policy and regulations dictating the market of assistive tech-nologies. Furthermore, publications from cognitive science complemented materials collected on many cognitive theories of autism. Collected vocabu-lary and focused topics led several search iterations into research fields, and provided me with a final search query for a sufficient coverage of theoretical background. That included autism as a neurodevelopmental condition and theories addressing it as a cognitive phenomenon; most prominent analogue intervention programs for training social skills in autism; and examples of developed assistive technology targeting social skills learning in autism. My search query also included keywords searching for publications on interdis-ciplinarity, normative social development, ethical regulations for assistive technologies, and cognitive science paradigms on organization of the mind. Conclusion The relevance of the research field has been recognized by a number of interdisciplinary projects funded by EU and other independent, interdisciplinary research groups. Recognized relevance led to newly estab-lished EU regulations to assure the safety of primary users. The examples from our research target separate facets of social contact, i.e. joint attention, imitation, verbal communication skills, understanding social and emotional cues and mental states of others. The examples employ mechanisms of ana-logue therapies such as ABA or CBT. Reports reflect on predominantly positive responses and compliance of test subjects, however still report lim-ited success in terms of skill transfer to other environments and maintenance over longer time period.

    Item Type: Thesis (MSc thesis)
    Keywords: utism Spectrum Condition, Computer Assisted Interventions, Cognitive Systems and Technologies, Ethics, Evaluation, Social Skills, Best Practices
    Number of Pages: 281
    Language of Content: English
    Mentor / Comentors:
    Mentor / ComentorsIDFunction
    prof. dr. Paolo PettaMentor
    Link to COBISS: https://plus.si.cobiss.net/opac7/bib/peflj/81171971
    Institution: University of Ljubljana
    Department: Faculty of Education
    Item ID: 6981
    Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2021 12:16
    Last Modified: 30 Nov 2021 08:29
    URI: http://pefprints.pef.uni-lj.si/id/eprint/6981

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