Developing the Psychomotor Skills of Children With Autism is Now Easier RCA RCA Software RCASoftware
Ulusal Ajans

In the past two weeks, the Bulgarıan team had a chance to test the demo version of the software in some special institutions and they shared their experience with us:

Some of the reactions of the children:

- 6-years old boy with ASD, high functioning, normal intelligence, verbal, multilingual (Spanish-Bulgarian-English): intrigued by the movements of the Avatar, repeats some of the instructions in English. Needs some more time between the parts of the exercise (steps 1-2-3-4).

- 6-years old boy with ASD, echolalic, no functional speech, low understanding: the first reaction is of interest, pleasure, and excitement (starts screaming, clapping hands and bouncing), he thought he was going to watch a video, he loves that. First, the movements were done together with the therapist, and after some repetitions, the boy is trying to do them by himself (Body parts only, level of understanding away from doing Gestural space or Laterality). Interested in the computer and in the Avatar more than in the therapist, which facilitated the imitation behavior. He has never been trained with psychomotor programs or with something including physical exercise, so he never had to imitate the movements of a real person in that way. Very difficult to make him understand what is wanted from him, but after some time he started to do the exercise first together with the therapist, and then he succeeded in imitating the exercise Show me your head (only).

- 7-years old boy with ASD, high functioning, verbal: imitates the movements, but the instructions in English are an obstacle because he is trying to repeat them, not the movements. According to the opinion of the therapist, if the instructions were in Bulgarian and there was a Kinect the child should show higher interest.

- 12-years old typically developing girl – doesn’t like the girl avatar, looking scary (because of the eyes and the voice); too much time left for the exercises for Body parts and not enough time left for some exercises in Laterality and Gestural space. Suggests different types of hair and dressing for the girl avatar

- 10 years old typically developing girl – doesn’t like the girl avatar; looking for diversity in the avatars; suggests different backgrounds (only colors, but different, and also different scenes – in the park, in the playground, etc.). Also suggests a melody or music as a background for the exercises.

- 8 years old typically developing boy, loses interest in the 4-steps exercises because of the pace. Asking for music as a background.

Students’ suggestions:

- to make the levels of difficulty different in terms of time left for the exercises (for example, more time for the easy levels and less time for the difficult levels)

- to make music background to all exercises that could be switched on and off manually by the specialist; with different music and rhythm as dynamic support for the rhythm of the movements.

- instead of music for dynamic support, to include a metronome or a “clapping device” that is ticking during the exercise (as if someone is clapping and counting at the phases 1-2-3-4). If possible that clapping could be manually switched on and off by the specialist and used if needed with some children

- to make a button with which the therapist could slow down and speed up the pace and the rhythm of the exercises according to the individual needs of each child.

- almost all movements for backward direction were difficult and unclear for the children with ASD; children are better in exercise for movements to the front, to the side and up.

Special educators’ suggestions:

- some graphic design issues, but not so problematic in terms of the purpose of the software (for example, the hands of the Avatar are disappearing in some exercises, or there are sunglasses and a hat on some of the exercises; colors and contrast could also, be changed a little

- to make sure that in exercises of laterality and gestural space the space rotation has been taken into account (for example, when the avatar shows/says Move your left arm, the child has to move his/her left arm too and rotate, not to act as in a mirror)

Parent’s suggestions

- difficult imitation of the avatar’s movements  for children who never had psychomotor education or have never been trained to imitate a real person;

- to have a screening procedure prior to the use of the software to determine the level of the kid

- to have more avatars that could attract the attention of a child with specific interests (like Spiderman, Batman, Princesses, etc.)


In the next perıod, we will make sure to implement all the suggestions from our Partner country.