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Thursday, June 27 • 11:15am - 11:30am
Assessing Play: Using Games to Diagnose Autism

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Our aim is to replace the augment existing clinical methods for childhood diagnosis of Autism with a game-based solution.  The psychological and psychiatric clinicians have been the driving force behind our game because they are frustrated by the lack of ecological validity in the most widely used interview-based methodologies. Time and again, parents doubt that the answers children provided when presented with oral descriptions of social situations are accurately representative of what they have seen those children do in similar situations in real life.

Our system weaves assessment into a game environment. Scenes containing social challenges are populated with characters based on the child's gender and the choices the child makes for their visual appearance in terms of skin tone and race. These choices propagate through appearance, voicing, and diction across ten distinct social scenarios that assess how the child interacts and plays with virtual children. Thoughtfully dealing with these issues of race and gender is critical to our goal of an assessment tool that surpasses the ecological validity of existing methods.

This talk will have three areas of focus.  First, we describe the role of games in addressing social information processing issues like those faced by children on the Autism spectrum.  Second, we discuss design and coding considerations unique to this genre of game.  Third, we will describe preliminary clinical results gathered in early 2013 as this game is shared with both ASD and Typically Developing Children.


Nicole Russo-Ponsaran

Associate Research Director, Rush NeuroBehavioral Center, Rush University Medical Center

Jim Thomas

Soar Technology
Soar Technology

Thursday June 27, 2013 11:15am - 11:30am EDT
Room D: Freedom Room

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