Using Applied Behavior Analysis in Software to help Tutor Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder

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Ugando, Antonio A.
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There are currently many tutoring software systems which have been designed for neurotypical children. These systems cover academic topics such as reading and math, and are made available through various technological mediums. The majority of these systems were not designed for use by children with special needs, in particular those who are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Since the 1970’s, studies have been conducted on the use of Applied Behavior Analysis to help autistic children learn [1]. This teaching methodology is proven to be very effective, with many patients having their diagnosis of autism dropped after a few years of treatment. With the advent of ubiquitous technologies such as mobile devices, it has become apparent that these devices could also be used to help tutor autistic children on academic subjects such as reading and math. Though the delivery of tutoring material must be made using Applied Behavior Analysis techniques, given that ABA therapy is currently the only form of treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder endorsed by the US Surgeon General [2], which further makes the case for incorporating it into an academics tutoring system tailored for autistic children. In this paper, we present a mobile software system which can be utilized to tutor children who are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the subjects of reading and math. The software makes use of Applied Behavior Analysis techniques such as a Token Economy system, visual and audible reinforcers, and generalization. Furthermore, we explore how combining Applied Behavior Analysis and technology, could help extend the reach of tutoring systems to these children.
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