Point OutWords: A Caregiver-delivered, Computer-Assisted Motor and Communicative Skills Therapy for Autism

Point Out Words
Venerdì, 26 Ottobre, 2018
Relatore: Matthew Belmonte, Nottingham Trent University
Titolo: Point OutWords: A Caregiver-delivered, Computer-Assisted Motor and Communicative Skills Therapy for Autism 
Dove: Aula VI, via dei Marsi 78
Quando: Venerdi 26 Ottobre 2018, ore 14:00
 
Abstract
Autism is a heterogenous condition, encompassing many different subtypes and presentations.  Of those people with autism who lack communicative speech, some are more skilled at receptive language than their expressive difficulty might suggest.  This disparity between what can be spoken and what can be understood correlates with motor and especially oral motor abilities, and thus may be a consequence of limits to oral motor skill.  Point OutWords, tablet-based software targeted for this motor-impaired subgroup and designed in collaboration with autistic clients and their communication therapists, exploits the autistic fascination with parts and details to motivate attention to learning manual motor and oral motor skills essential for communication. 
Along the way, autistic clients practise pointing and dragging at objects, then pointing at sequences of letters on a keyboard, and even speaking the syllables represented by these letters.  Whereas many teaching and learning strategies adapted from methods for non-autistic people end up working against autistic cognition by asking people with autism to do what they cannot easily do, Point OutWords works with autistic cognition, by beginning from the autistic skill at manipulating parts and details. 
Users progress from Point Mode in which they learn to point and to drag iconic puzzle pieces to assemble whole objects, to Type Mode in which pieces labelled with alphabetic symbols are assembled into wholes by tapping the corresponding symbol on a keyboard.  They thus move from representing objects as sequences of iconic puzzle pieces to representing them as sequences of symbols..  We describe the design of Point OutWords, and of a current randomised controlled trial evaluating it for efficacy via both internal measures of motor interaction and external standard tests and surveys of communicative functioning.
 

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