IN-AUTIS-TIC: Social Integration of Children with Autism through ICT” is a research project originally funded by the RecerCaixa 2013 grant (February 2014 to January 2016). The research project investigates how a full-body interactive environment can foster social initiation behaviours in children with Autism while interacting with typically developed children. This project is led by the Cognitive Media Technologies research group of the ICT Dep in Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona (Principal Investigator Prof. Narcis Pares) in collaboration with Dr. Pamela Heaton from the Dep. of Psychology in Goldsmith’s, U. of London, and the Specialised Unit in Behaviour Disorders of the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu, Barcelona (led by Dr. Amaia Hervás).
Specifically this project focuses on applying full-body interaction videogames, based on embodied cognition theories, to foster social interaction behaviours in children within the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) while playing with typically developed children (TD). The ultimate aim is to make ASD children aware of the benefits of social interaction and provide them mechanisms for social initiation in order to help them achieve greater autonomy when they grow up.
The full-body interaction videogame developed within this project is called Lands of Fog and is based on a 6 meter diameter projection on the floor where both ASD and TD children can explore and discover unique characters, objects and events. To interact with the world, children have a lighted colourful butterfly net that allows them to open a hole in the thick fog that covers the virtual world and interact with the creatures and objects that live there. Some of the objects and activities in the virtual world may only be discovered if the children collaborate to trigger them or make them appear. This defines attitudes based on exploration and discovery which lead to sharing the experience through social initiation behaviours.