493 research outputs found

    Learning to work together: designing a multi-user virtual reality game for social collaboration and perspective-taking for children with autism

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    Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) find it difficult to engage in reciprocal, shared behaviours and technology could be particularly helpful in supporting children’s motivations and skills in this area. Designing educational technologies for children with ASD requires the integration of a complex range of factors including pedagogical and cognitive theories; the affordances of the technology; and the real-world contexts of use. This paper illustrates how these factors informed the design of a novel collaborative virtual reality environment (CVE) for supporting communicative perspective-taking skills for high-functioning children with ASD. Findings from a small-scale study involving eight typically developing (TD) children (aged 8 years) and six children with ASD (verbal mental age 9 years) are also reported. Children with ASD were supported to be reciprocal and collaborative in their responses, suggesting that this CVE could form the basis for a useful technology-based educational intervention

    A Pilot Study with a Novel Setup for Collaborative Play of the Humanoid Robot KASPAR with children with autism

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    This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and the source are credited.This article describes a pilot study in which a novel experimental setup, involving an autonomous humanoid robot, KASPAR, participating in a collaborative, dyadic video game, was implemented and tested with children with autism, all of whom had impairments in playing socially and communicating with others. The children alternated between playing the collaborative video game with a neurotypical adult and playing the same game with the humanoid robot, being exposed to each condition twice. The equipment and experimental setup were designed to observe whether the children would engage in more collaborative behaviours while playing the video game and interacting with the adult than performing the same activities with the humanoid robot. The article describes the development of the experimental setup and its first evaluation in a small-scale exploratory pilot study. The purpose of the study was to gain experience with the operational limits of the robot as well as the dyadic video game, to determine what changes should be made to the systems, and to gain experience with analyzing the data from this study in order to conduct a more extensive evaluation in the future. Based on our observations of the childrens’ experiences in playing the cooperative game, we determined that while the children enjoyed both playing the game and interacting with the robot, the game should be made simpler to play as well as more explicitly collaborative in its mechanics. Also, the robot should be more explicit in its speech as well as more structured in its interactions. Results show that the children found the activity to be more entertaining, appeared more engaged in playing, and displayed better collaborative behaviours with their partners (For the purposes of this article, ‘partner’ refers to the human/robotic agent which interacts with the children with autism. We are not using the term’s other meanings that refer to specific relationships or emotional involvement between two individuals.) in the second sessions of playing with human adults than during their first sessions. One way of explaining these findings is that the children’s intermediary play session with the humanoid robot impacted their subsequent play session with the human adult. However, another longer and more thorough study would have to be conducted in order to better re-interpret these findings. Furthermore, although the children with autism were more interested in and entertained by the robotic partner, the children showed more examples of collaborative play and cooperation while playing with the human adult.Peer reviewe

    Predicting Friendship Quality in Autism Spectrum Disorders and Typical Development

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    The role played by social relationship variables (attachment security; mother–child relationship qualities) and social-cognitive capacities (theory of mind) was examined in both observed friendship behaviors and in children’s descriptions of friendships (age 8–12) with high functioning children with autism spectrum disorders (HFASD) (n = 44) and with typical development (TYP) (n = 38). Overall, half of the HFASD sample (54.45%) reported maternal attachment security, corroborating data from younger children with ASD. The hypothesized predictors and their interrelations had both direct and indirect effects on friendship for both groups of children, highlighting the importance of these factors in children’s friendship development and suggesting both compensatory and amplification mechanisms for friendship qualities. Practical and clinical implications are discussed for friendship support in both ASD and TYP

    Abstract Reasoning and Friendship in High Functioning Preadolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders

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    To investigate the relationship between cognitive and social functioning, 20 Israeli individuals with HFASD aged 8–12 and 22 age, maternal education, and receptive vocabulary–matched preadolescents with typical development (TYP) came to the lab with a close friend. Measures of abstract reasoning, friendship quality, and dyadic interaction during a play session were obtained. As hypothesized, individuals with HFASD were significantly impaired in abstract reasoning, and there were significant group differences in friend and observer reports of friendship quality. There also was consistency in reports between friends. Two factors—“relationship appearance” and “relationship quality” described positive aspects of the relationships. Disability status and age related to relationship appearance. Proband abstract reasoning was related to relationship quality

    Social Networks and Friendships at School: Comparing Children With and Without ASD

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    Self, peer and teacher reports of social relationships were examined for 60 high-functioning children with ASD. Compared to a matched sample of typical children in the same classroom, children with ASD were more often on the periphery of their social networks, reported poorer quality friendships and had fewer reciprocal friendships. On the playground, children with ASD were mostly unengaged but playground engagement was not associated with peer, self, or teacher reports of social behavior. Twenty percent of children with ASD had a reciprocated friendship and also high social network status. Thus, while the majority of high functioning children with ASD struggle with peer relationships in general education classrooms, a small percentage of them appear to have social success

    Chemically and Biologically Harmless versus Harmful Ferritin/Copper–Metallothionein Couples

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    "This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Carmona Rodríguez-Acosta, F.; et al. Chemically and Biologically Harmless versus Harmful Ferritin/Copper–Metallothionein Couples. Chemistry A European Journal, 21(2): 808-813 (2015), which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/chem.201404660. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving."The simultaneous measurement of the decrease of available FeII ions and the increase of available FeIII ions allowed the analysis of the ferroxidase activity of two distinct apoferritins. Although recombinant human apoferritin (HuFtH) rapidly oxidizes FeII to FeIII, this iron is not properly stored in the ferritin cavity, as otherwise occurs in horse-spleen H/L-apoferritin (HsFt; H=heavy subunit, L=light subunit). Iron storage in these apoferritins was also studied in the presence of two copper-loaded mammalian metallothioneins (MT2 and MT3), a scenario that occurs in different brain-cell types. For HuFtH, unstored FeIII ions trigger the oxidation of Cu–MT2 with concomitant CuI release. In contrast, there is no reaction with Cu–MT2 in the case of HsFt. Similarly, Cu–MT3 does not react during either HuFtH or HsFt iron reconstitution. Significantly, the combination of ferritin and metallothionein isoforms reported in glia and neuronal cells are precisely those combinations that avoid a harmful release of FeII and CuI ions.Work supported by the Spanish MINECO and FEDER funds with grants CTQ2012–32236 to J.M.D.-V., BIO2012–39682-C02–01 to S.A., and BIO2012–39682-C02–02 to M.C. The authors from the Barcelona universities are members of the Grup de Recerca de la Generalitat de Catalunya (refs. 2014SGR-00423). F.C. is grateful to the Spanish MINECO for a FPI Fellowship