State College, PA – Researchers at Penn State University have devised a new game to help teens on the spectrum improve their nonverbal communication and interpersonal skills.
The computer game, which has been created by staff hailing from the university’s psychology and behavioral health faculties, is designed to appear like a labyrinth situated underneath a large city. Players are required to rely solely on nonverbal cues provided by bystanders in order to catch the “bad guy” and thus, win the game.
The objective is for participants to effectively engage with the bystanders and use the cues they are given such as facial expressions and finger pointing to guide them, ultimately aiding in the development of proficient interpersonal and communication skills.
Because many individuals on the autism spectrum have difficulty interpreting non verbal communication, it can prevent them from succeeding in school, work and social settings. Moreover, many families don’t have access to the appropriate behavioral therapies that could help address the issue.
The game was therefore developed and is a collaborative effort between the university and Behrend College with funding being provided through crowdsourcing and its Centre for Online Innovation in Learning (COIL).
Researchers hope to create further levels in the game and transition the ones that have already been developed into the pilot phase of development.
The original article by Leila Meyer on the Campus Technology website can be read here