Developing and Testing a Novel Therapeutic Game for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Columbia University, 2009 - $20,000

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the fastest growing developmental disability in the US, with as many as 1.5 million Americans affected. The most common symptoms experienced by individuals affected with an ASD involve difficulties with social situations, verbal and non-verbal communication problems and understanding or displaying empathy. Children affected with an ASD often have unique and extreme preferences and aversions, making highly individualized care a necessity, yet comprehensive treatment is often prohibitively expensive.

To address the problem, this E-Team is developing a series of therapeutic computer games for autistic children between the age of 5 and 18. While other therapeutic video games are on the market, none are directed specifically toward autism and none allow for monitoring of in-game behavior and metrics, leading to customization of certain aspects of the game to suit the needs of the patient. The E-Team’s games will supplement existing treatment plans by providing individualized care outside of the treatment facility. The ultimate goal is improvement in social and communication skills.