A core feature of autism includes difficulty making eye contact and using eye gaze information to interpret the intentions of others. Traditionally, these deficits have been evaluated in laboratory settings using eye-tracking technology that is expensive and requires permanent installation. In this project, we propose to take advantage of new, low-cost eye-tracking technology (designed for home based entertainment use) and incorporate it into an online educational game, designed to teach social skills to adolescents with autism. The goal is to design new game content that will use this innovative technology to allow participants to control aspects of game play using their own eye gaze. This approach will foster learning of this critical social skill in the context of more naturalistic social interactions between players and game characters; in turn leading to greater skill generalization (e.g., new settings outside the game). We will conduct pilot and usability testing of the game to improve the delivery of the educational content. To accomplish these goals, we have assembled a world-class team of investigators with expertise in autism, interventions, eye tracking, and game design. The study has broad implications related to the use of eye tracking technology for home-based online learning and related educational applications.
K. Suzanne Scherf
Assistant Professor, Psychology
College of the Liberal Arts
University Park, PA 16802
(814) 867 2921