Matthew Clark - Gameplay and Graphics Programmer

Autism Learning Aid

» For integrated classrooms

  • Matthew Clark
  • Joseph Gatling
  • Thomas Killen
  • Ben Lam
Screengrab of Autism Learning Aid
Screengrab of Autism Learning Aid

About the prototype

This virtual environment prototype is intended for use as a learning aid in integrated classrooms by students who suffer from an autistic spectrum disorder. A hallmark of this disorder is the frequent need for periods of social isolation. The environment makes use of common therapies for the treatment of autism to provide an immersive tool that students can use during these periods. The role of this environment is enhanced by involving the participant in interactions that reinforce basic patterns of communication whilst appealing to the idiosyncrasies of many autistic spectrum disorders, such as an attraction to repetitive tasks, to enhance the immersive nature of the program and the sense of presence experienced by the user. Additionally, by making use of common practices which enable the child to return to the regular classroom environment after a period of social isolation, specifically the treatment known as Snoezelen which involves the use of soothing colours and sounds, etc, this virtual environment will enhance the benefits of an integrated classroom for an autistic child by encouraging the child to spend more time interacting in the genuine social environment of the classroom

Method of Interaction

The prototype of the virtual environment is composed of three characters that interact with the user. The main user interactions occur when the user clicks on the StrongMan character. When he is clicked on, four buttons appear each representing one shape, a square, triangle, cross, or circle. After the user chooses a shape, colour options nest above the shape option. These colours are red, yellow, blue, and green. These colour and shape combinations correspond to shapes which are in the environment. After the user has chosen a shape and a colour, the user can then choose from one of the four corners, which are also identified by colour, which the user wants to put the shape. The StrongMan then picks up the indicated shape and takes it to the indicated corner. After each shape is moved, the Artist character or the Scientist character comment on the pattern of shapes or colours that the user has created. Additionally, when the user indicates which shape they wish to move, a voice over occurs which says, for example "take the yellow square to the blue corner".

Production

Autism Learning Aid was produced over a period of 3 weeks by Students Matthew Clark, Joeseph Gatling, Thomas Killen and Ben Lam.

It was written from scratch in C++ and OpenGL by Tom and myself. Textures and models were designed by Joe, and created by Joe and Ben. The original idea was proposed by Tom.

Copyright 2009 Matthew Clark
mgr.clark at gmail.com