Can computers create relaxation? Designing ReacTickles© software with children on the autistic spectrum
Taylor and Francis Group
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People on the autistic spectrum are characterised as having diﬃculties with social and communicative functioning. They are understood to have unusual sensory experiences, in any modality, which means that their perception of the world is alarmingly diﬀerent from non-autistic people. These experiences create confusion and anxiety, and for many autistic individuals their lives are dominated by fear. A body of research exists, however, to suggest that computers present an ideal medium for reducing the confusing, multi-sensory distractions of the real world and that given the right approach, there is a strong possibility that some aspects of computation could prove relaxing and therapeutic. This paper will document the participatory design and development methods of the ReacTickles© software, which, by encouraging exploration and experimentation from a simple, structured interface, aims to promote relaxation, encourage spontaneous play, and support learning for children on the autistic spectrum. The paper will reveal how the entire design process from concept development through to the varied and ﬂexible evaluation strategies, has been informed by the distinct needs and characteristics of the target population.
CoDesign, vol. 3, No 2, June 2007, 97-110
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