Autistic children develop social skills

Oct. 22, 2011 at 12:00 AM
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LONDON, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- British researchers developed an interactive environment that uses multi-touch screen technology to allow children with autism to control virtual characters.

Dr. Kaska Porayska-Pomsta of the University of London and the London Knowledge Lab, said primary school children with autism experiment with different social scenarios during Echoes Project sessions, allowing the researchers to compare their reactions with those they display in real-world situations.

The benefits of virtual worlds can be used to help autistic children develop social skills beyond their anticipated levels, Porayska-Pomsta said.

"Learning environments such as Echoes may allow some children to exceed their potential, behaving and achieving in ways that even teachers who knew them well could not have anticipated," Porayska-Pomsta said in a statement. "Since autistic children have a particular affinity with computers, our research shows it may be possible to use digital technology to help develop their social skills," Porayska-Pomsta said.

"The beauty of it is that there are no real-world consequences, so children can afford to experiment with different social scenarios without real-world risks," Porayska-Pomsta said.

The project will be demonstrated at an event in Birmingham, part of the Economic and Social Research Council Festival of Social Science in November.

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