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Conversing through and about technologies: Design critique as an opportunity to engage children with autism and broaden research(er) perspectives

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38 - 49
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Child-Computer Interaction
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


We describe the development of a tool to support the contributions of children with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) in a design critique activity. The work is part of the ECHOES project in which we included children with ASC in a participatory design process to create a technologically enhanced learning environment. We start by discussing the general difficulties of involving children with ASC in participatory design work, particularly a socially demanding activity such as design critique. We then describe how we developed the requirements for a tool to support children with ASC in design critique, the resulting prototype and a pilot study. We discovered that the simple annotator tool served complex interactional needs and supported design critique in unexpected ways, by scaffolding the interaction with the researcher and providing opportunities for emotional self-regulation. After shifting our focus from outcomes only to these interactional aspects, we carried out a study with 7 children with ASC investigating in more depth how the tool supported the children’s participation. We report on the study and our analysis, and discuss the direct and indirect implications this work has had on the ECHOES project and beyond in terms of design outcomes, methodology and contributions to knowledge.

ID: 25140026