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Article
Publication date: 19 June 2017

Benoît Bossavit and Sarah Parsons

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how teenagers on the autism spectrum respond to their involvement in the creation of a collaborative game, meeting the curriculum…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how teenagers on the autism spectrum respond to their involvement in the creation of a collaborative game, meeting the curriculum requirements in programming at secondary level in England.

Design/methodology/approach

Two autistic teenagers were involved in participatory design processes to elaborate and develop together a collaborative game of their choice using the visual programming software, Kodu Game Lab.

Findings

With the support of adults (teachers and the researcher), the participants were able to demonstrate and strengthen their participation, problem-solving and programming skills. The participants expressed their preferences through their attitudes towards the tasks. They created a game where the players did not need to initiate any interaction between each other to complete a level. Furthermore, the students naturally decided to work separately and interacted more with the adults than with each other.

Research limitations/implications

This is a small case study and so cannot be generalised. However, it can serve as starting point for further studies that involve students with autism in the development of interactive games.

Practical implications

It has been shown that disengaged students can develop various skills through their involvement in software programming.

Originality/value

Overall, this paper presents the involvement of teenagers on the autism spectrum in the initial design and development of a collaborative game with an approach that shaped, and was shaped by, the students’ interests. Although collaboration was emphasised in the intended learning outcomes for the game, as well as through the design process, this proved difficult to achieve in practice suggesting that students with autism may require stronger scaffolding to engage in collaborative learning.

Details

Journal of Enabling Technologies, vol. 11 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-6263

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 19 December 2016

Judith Good, Sarah Parsons, Nicola Yuill and Mark Brosnan

This short paper reports on the fourth seminar in a seven-seminar series entitled, “Innovative Technologies for Autism: Critical Reflections on Digital Bubbles”, funded by the UK…

1819

Abstract

Purpose

This short paper reports on the fourth seminar in a seven-seminar series entitled, “Innovative Technologies for Autism: Critical Reflections on Digital Bubbles”, funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council. The purpose of this paper is to consider in more depth the technologies being developed and used in the autism field, and to critically reflect on their relative benefits and potential pitfalls.

Design/methodology/approach

Presentations from key researchers and practitioners are reviewed, highlighting contemporary issues in the area of autism and technology. The presentations include descriptions of cutting-edge technologies as well as the role of technology in human-human interaction.

Findings

Despite its potential, technology for autism is regarded by many with some caution: technology per se cannot provide solutions to key issues in the field. However, by looking in more depth at the features of new technologies and the interactions that take place with and around them, we can begin to build up a picture of best practice around technology for autism.

Originality/value

This paper offers up-to-date insights from leading academics on the benefits and challenges of innovative technologies in the field of autism research and practice. Specifically, it highlights the importance of including a breadth of expertise in the design of such tools, and the need to consider technology as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself.

Details

Journal of Assistive Technologies, vol. 10 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-9450

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 18 September 2017

Sarah Parsons, Nicola Yuill, Mark Brosnan and Judith Good

The purpose of this paper is to present an overview of the main messages and key questions for further research arising from the seven-seminar series entitled, “Innovative…

2217

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present an overview of the main messages and key questions for further research arising from the seven-seminar series entitled, “Innovative technologies for autism: critical reflections on digital bubbles”, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council in the UK.

Design/methodology/approach

A synthesis of the main ideas is presented, drawing on the presentations, discussions, participant feedback, and short papers from across the seminar series, which took place between November 2014-2016.

Findings

There were many positive examples where technologies were positioned and used as facilitative “bridges” between ideas, communities, understanding, and experiences. Researchers and community stakeholders also emphasised the importance of taking different perspectives and working in stronger partnerships with each other. Four overarching research questions were developed from these themes to provide a roadmap for future research, relating to: responsible innovation, technology-enabled social interaction, learning and pedagogy, and engagement.

Originality/value

The findings and methodologies produced by the Digital Bubbles seminar series, available on the project website (http://digitalbubbles.org.uk/) and in a series of short papers, provide a rich repository of state-of-the-art thinking in the field of autism and technology that is being utilised nationally and internationally in teaching and learning. This paper suggests some valuable future research directions and highlights the importance of establishing and maintaining multi-disciplinary research teams, with autistic people and their families at their core.

Details

Journal of Enabling Technologies, vol. 11 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-6263

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 19 June 2017

Mark Brosnan, Samantha Holt, Nicola Yuill, Judith Good and Sarah Parsons

The purpose of this paper is to report on the sixth seminar in a seven-seminar series entitled, Innovative Technologies for Autism: Critical Reflections on Digital Bubbles, funded…

1069

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to report on the sixth seminar in a seven-seminar series entitled, Innovative Technologies for Autism: Critical Reflections on Digital Bubbles, funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council. The aim of this particular seminar was to reflect upon the implications from neurodiverse communities for the development of technology for autism.

Design/methodology/approach

Presentations from key researchers and parental perspectives are reviewed, highlighting contemporary issues in neurodiverse populations that have important implications for autism.

Findings

Whilst there are many conditions associated with autism, most commonly intellectual disability (learning difficulties), this is not reflected in research. In addition, for child-based research, researchers are at least a generation older than participants and have had different digital-childhoods. Involving neurodiverse populations within participatory design sessions can address both of these issues. Understanding the context of the issues that the participatory design sessions address is crucial for developing participatory design principles that extend from one condition to another. This includes understanding when findings based upon verbal populations can be extended to non-verbal populations.

Originality/value

This paper offers up-to-date insights into how design principles from one condition extend to different conditions. Universal interaction and neurodiversity HCI are considered. This is important within neurodiverse populations, especially given the high rates of additional conditions that are associated with autism. Whilst the majority of autism research has involved verbal populations, the benefits of technology can extend to non-verbal populations.

Details

Journal of Enabling Technologies, vol. 11 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-6263

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 20 March 2017

Sarah Parsons, Nicola Yuill, Mark Brosnan and Judith Good

Interdisciplinary perspectives and collaboration in technology research are regarded as vital for producing effective and usable solutions that meet real needs. The purpose of…

Abstract

Purpose

Interdisciplinary perspectives and collaboration in technology research are regarded as vital for producing effective and usable solutions that meet real needs. The purpose of this paper is to draw upon the fifth seminar in an Economic and Social Research Council funded series in the UK on “Innovative Technologies for Autism”. This seminar focused on the contributions that different disciplines can make to the field of autism and technology, and offers some interesting avenues for future research.

Design/methodology/approach

A synthesis of key messages from the speakers’ talks is presented, interspersed with comments and observations from delegates which were written on post-it notes during the day and shared amongst the group.

Findings

Interdisciplinarity can be conceptualised in many different ways and is not simply about academic contributions. Collaborative research involving genuine stakeholder participation can provide fertile grounds for respecting and exploring individual differences and needs. Investigating the uses of existing technologies as well as developing innovative ideas and prototypes through inclusive design are important avenues for future research.

Originality/value

This paper offers a rare glimpse into a range of perspectives within a broad field of research and draws out some important connections between these different viewpoints. There are valuable avenues for collaboration and further exploration that would extend research in productive ways.

Details

Journal of Enabling Technologies, vol. 11 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-6263

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 28 August 2018

Keri Hoy, Sarah Parsons and Hanna Kovshoff

The primary to secondary school transition can have a significant and long-lasting impact on young people. Autistic children are particularly vulnerable to negative transition…

2012

Abstract

Purpose

The primary to secondary school transition can have a significant and long-lasting impact on young people. Autistic children are particularly vulnerable to negative transition experiences; however, there is a lack of research examining effective practices and provision for these pupils. This case study involves a mainstream secondary school in the South of England, which has a dedicated Learning Support base. The purpose of this paper is to collect qualitative data on experiences of the primary to secondary school transition from multiple stakeholders.

Design/methodology/approach

A photovoice activity followed by a semi-structured interview was conducted with five autistic pupils aged 12–16 years; semi-structured interviews were also carried out with six parents and four teachers.

Findings

Five key themes emerged from the data in relation to effective practices: inclusion, child-centred approach, familiarisation, visual supports and communication and consistency.

Research limitations/implications

As a small-scale case study, there are limitations regarding generalisation. However, this research illuminates transition practices that are experienced as effective by autistic children, their families and teachers.

Practical implications

Practical implications related to each of these themes are highlighted. These implications are important in the context of the mandatory responsibilities of schools in England to include the voices of children and young people with special educational needs in decisions about their education.

Originality/value

The findings challenge a rights-based approach to inclusion and illustrate the importance of a needs-based approach which appropriately recognises and understands what autism means for children, their families and the teachers who support them.

Details

Advances in Autism, vol. 4 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2056-3868

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 20 March 2017

Sarah Parsons and John Woolham

657

Abstract

Details

Journal of Enabling Technologies, vol. 11 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-6263

Content available
Article
Publication date: 18 September 2017

Sarah Parsons and John Woolham

330

Abstract

Details

Journal of Enabling Technologies, vol. 11 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-6263

Content available
Article
Publication date: 19 June 2017

John Woolham and Sarah Parsons

499

Abstract

Details

Journal of Enabling Technologies, vol. 11 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-6263

Article
Publication date: 20 June 2016

Mark Brosnan, Sarah Parsons, Judith Good and Nicola Yuill

The purpose of this paper is to reflect upon on the opportunities and challenges of engaging with a wide variety of stakeholders during the design, development and evaluation of…

1075

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to reflect upon on the opportunities and challenges of engaging with a wide variety of stakeholders during the design, development and evaluation of innovative technologies for people with autism. Autism is defined in part by difficulties in social communication and interaction, and is therefore particularly pertinent when considering the opportunities and challenges of participatory design (PD).

Design/methodology/approach

A series of presentations from key researchers and practitioners are reviewed, highlighting contemporary issues about how technologies have been designed to improve educational support using a range of methods and processes for stakeholder involvement.

Findings

Involvement per se does not constitute engagement as a design partner. The interdisciplinary nature of PD, combined with the viewpoints of communities beyond academia, need to be integrated in a manner that allows for different perspectives and voices, and for the “trace” of the contribution to be evidenced. The level of evidence required for demonstrating effective support needs to be considered in terms of both the outcomes of projects and the processes for involving stakeholders in PD.

Originality/value

This paper offers an up-to-date insight from lead researchers into key debates about the benefits and challenges of PD with autistic people and the broader autism community. Its value lies in raising questions about, and discussing evidence that challenges, some of the assumptions that underpin both PD processes and the needs of the autistic community.

Details

Journal of Assistive Technologies, vol. 10 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-9450

Keywords

1 – 10 of 194