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Augmented playset increases interaction for autistic children


Making play sets more interactive can help kids with autism. By giving children with autism greater opportunities to control and add personal content, games could improve cooperative play with other children. The broader interplay could also increase confidence and understanding.

A group of researchers, William Farr and Nicola Yuilll of the University of Sussex, UK, and Steve Hinke of ETH Zurich, explain in their research that children with autism are not only affected by social difficulties, but also by an impaired understanding of how objects interact. They looked at how toys could be adapted as therapeutic tools.

The team used the Playmobil Knight’s Castle play set to evaluate the expanded, interactive play of autistic children. They augmented the play set by adding a wireless networking system and radio frequency identification tags (RFIDs) to the play pieces to add feedback and programmable aspects to the play set. The modified play set produced sound and movement when interacting with the kids. They found that the adapted play set improved understanding and interest in the play itself, and also increased the level of interaction with other children playing with the toy. There was increased parallel and cooperative play, which is a challenge for autistic children who tend to fall back on solitary play.

By offering a play set that interacts and responds to the imagination of the autistic child, they hope to open up new opportunities to children with autism through an increased sense of control. The Augmented Knight’s Castle could reduce isolation for children by helping them engage and extend their play to other children.

Source: ScienceDaily, International Journal of Arts and Technology

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