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In the last twenty years, there has been a vast increase in the number of people that are
diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).(citation) This increase does not indubitably
indicate that this disorder is becoming more widespread; instead, this rise is due to more
advanced medical developments and the use of more refined diagnostic tools which have
allowed experts to become better at distinguishing ASD cases correctly.(citation) On the other
hand, in the United States, diagnosis of autism has increased from 1/2500 children in 1966,
to 1/150 in 2002, although the causes remain unknown. Autistic spectrum disorder is a
condition in which the diagnosed individuals, despite the fact that they all share similar
behavioural patterns, can be divided into different categories.
(http://www.autism.org.uk/about-autism/autism-and-asperger-syndrome-an-
introduction/what-is-autism.aspx). More specifically, the autistic spectrum disorder refers to
three major subtypes: autistic disorder, pervasive development disorder and Asperger
syndrome. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autism_spectrum). The autistic behaviour spectrum
ranges from nonverbal children with limited abilities who may need life-long care to very
intelligent adults with Asperger syndrome who can live independently but have difficulty
communicating socially. On the whole, people with ASD are challenged in self care, daily life
chores, social functioning, organization, initiating conversations, interpreting nonverbal cues,
expressing their feelings, and understanding others perspectives. As a result, they suffer from
feelings of loneliness and depression. Autism spectrum disorder is usually diagnosed by
experts in the early years of a childs life, but sometimes different variations of autism
spectrum disorder might not come to light until after a significant number of years. (pervasive
computing and autism assisting caregivers of children with special needs IEEE).
Although ASD is a more general term and includes a number of subtypes, the
disorders are so complex that no two individuals have the same combination of deficiencies
( ist) therefore, it is necessary for all technical support to be customized to the situation a
specific individual is experiencing. The different deficiencies that result from this disorder
can be affected positively if computers or technology in general is used. It is a fact that
individuals with autistic disorder lack motivation and the ability to interact and concentrate .
(Autism and computers IEEE). In this case, computers can contribute by teaching them how
to communicate and also how to participate in situations where social interaction is required.
Most of the time, autistic people have difficulty in expressing themselves or even
communicating with others in a social situation, and computers can be an alternative medium
to facilitate this interaction. Although there are different medical methods to teach individuals
how to respond socially, success is not necessarily guaranteed, and most of the time these
treatments are too expensive to continue. ( citation) An interactive game design that exploits
advanced technological developments can be a solution as it can analyse all the expressions
of a user, create a human form, and reflect the users expressions in order to influence them
on an emotional level. ( Jain, S.; Tamersoy, B.; Zhang, Y.; Aggarwal, J.K.; Orvalho, V., "An interactive
game for teaching facial expressions to children with Autism Spectrum Disorders," Communications
Control and Signal Processing (ISCCSP), 2012 5th International Symposium on , vol., no., pp.1,4, 2-4
May 2012). Moreover, using a computer can be effective because it requires less concentration
and individuals with ASD can sometimes react violently when they do not get results
immediately. Also, changing the environment frequently can cause them to be uncomfortable
and feel insecure, which may result in rudeness and aggression. Computers, on the other
hand, provide a specific environment with clear boundaries that can be exploited by the users,
allowing them not only to make errors but to explore, learn and experiment simultaneously.
(Autism and computers. IEEE).
It is important for people who have ASD to become independent and to be integrated
into the community from an early age, so as to learn how to take care of themselves, solve
daily problems, and interact with others. In most cases, this kind of disorder is diagnosed
between the ages of two and six (pervasive computing and autism assisting), when integration
in the society can be easy. What happens if someone is diagnosed with autism spectrum
disorder when he is an adult?(Mike, is this possible?) How will they react in a situation where
a particular item is out of stock during their shopping for instance? For this purpose, a
standardized product can be integrated in their lives which will help them be independent and
mature enough to make appropriate decisions.
The first step in building this standardized product is to form the requirements
specification. This specification is about understanding, (?) gathering information and
defining the problem domain so as to define the system-to-be. It is mandatory to model and
describe this domain clearly and accurately and to identify conflicts between multiple
viewpoints and expectations. For one to fully understand the problem, thorough research in
order to gather information is of utmost importance. Information can be obtained from the
autism spectrum research centres which have a wider and comprehensive view of the
problem. Moreover, quality journals, articles and even books are necessary tools that can be
utilized in order to accurately design the system-to-be. The information which parents share
with caregivers and other professionals is also invaluable. Caregivers are also rich sources of
information due to the role they play in their one-to-one relationship with people who suffer
from autism.
Ethical considerations present challenges for computer scientists, caregivers, teachers
and other professionals, and should be seriously addressed, especially where the use of
technology is concerned. To begin with, children and adults with autism cannot usually
express or verbalise their needs, so it is imperative that everybody concerned works
responsibly for these peoples best interests. Privacy is another factor that should be taken
into consideration and all information disclosed about and even by people with autism should
be safeguarded. Individuals with ASD also have the right to safety when being assisted with
technology as it can be very easy for them to be bullied in cyberspace. Ensuring trust is
another ethical consideration when both children and adults with autism are introduced and
encouraged to work with programs especially designed for them; these should relieve tension
in relationships and frustration and feelings of insecurity when attempting to meet their
needs. Furthermore, the individuals autonomy and free will should be respected and efforts
should be made to help them become as independent as possible.

2. The standardized product that we will be focusing on is an interactive system that will
help individuals with ASD to develop their social skills and more specifically to learn how to
behave when unexpected situations occur. (Boujarwah_PervasiveHealth2010).Countless,
unexpected events take place on a social level, and adults who suffer from some kind of
autistic spectrum disorder are likely to be stressful and unable to adapt and react accordingly.
Our overall goal is to assist the group into being independent. Independence is the key to a
successful transition to adulthood for individuals with autism.
(Hong_CSCW2012_SocialMirror). The system will succeed this by concentrating on
everyday life situations such as, shopping situations. Although the majority of people would
find relatively easy to go shopping which also requires interaction with other people,
individuals that suffer from autistic spectrum disorder find it extremely difficult. This is
mainly because people with ASD exhibit what is commonly referred to as the triad of
impairments (10.1007_s10209-007-0076-x.pdf).
More specifically, they are:

Difficulty with social communication


Difficulty with social interaction
Difficulty with social imagination
While it might seem for these individuals impossible to overcome these difficulties, our
proposed system will help them be socially active by providing them with real-time support.

3. There are a number of options that have to be taken into consideration when actually
implementing the system. For example, a camera-based solution would not be appropriate
since it would contradict with the constraints of the target users. Since, it would be used in
everyday life, discretion is a necessity. Thus, wearable interactive technology would be an
ideal solution for this. As the primary goal is to support the individuals, a sensing system
must be integrated into the wearable technology in order to detect whether help is needed. For
example, a ring sensor design was first presented by Asada et al. which measured the heart
rate and the blood oxygen saturation of the individual.
(http://www.jneuroengrehab.com/content/pdf/1743-0003-9-21.pdf , citation No. 22).
Although this can be an interesting approach, for our purposes, measuring heart rate is not
enough. We need a wearable system which is also able to monitor motion activities. Our
proposed system is a flexible wireless sensor that is integrated into a bracelet which the target
group is going to wear. While a mobile phone will be paired with it and would analyse the
data gathered by the bracelet, and if help is needed it will connect with support either by
making a call or by text based interface through the internet
4. The implementation process requires a thorough planning in order for the system to be
evaluated positively. To ensure outcomes are delivered on time and objectives are met, goals
need to be identified precisely. Within these objectives, we must determine what work is to be
done, in what order these actions are going to be carried out, and how long it will take for the
whole process to finish. Throughout the process, we must first breakdown the work. Work
breakdown will make the planning easier and successful. Secondly, we would list the lowest-
level activities and we would allocate realistic times to them (citation: slides). This will help
us keep track of each work and be certain that deadlines have not been overpassed. A high-
level implementation for the system proposed above:

Design-
Plan Build Evaluate Deliver
Requirements

Test

The project management that best fits for our system is the agile model. Although the
requirements of the system are straightforward and are unlikely to change during the
implementation, agile model is preferred due to possible unexpected difficulties that may
occur during the process. The system is meant to be used by individuals with special needs
and it is likely for different challenges to arise such as which technology is best to be used.
Apart from the tight schedule milestone that has been planned earlier, the group team will
have to be informed through regular weekly meetings in order to keep a better track of the
implementation. Users on the other hand, do not need to be informed or even take part in the
process, until we have reached the final phase. The final part, which includes individuals with
ASD to use the actual system, would be rather challenging. Working with people with special
needs will derive unexpected difficulties. Fortunately, agile management allows changes
during the entire implementation and that would be an advantage for dealing with these
difficulties.

5. Evaluation is an essential process in the implementation of the system. The main goals of
evaluation is to assess the accessibility of the systems functionality, to assess the human
computer interaction and finally to identify any problems within the system. The systems
functionality is rather important since it must satisfy the user requirements. The proposed
system which is intended for adults with autism spectrum disorder must identify the system
as functional, usable and reachable in any circumstances. In addition to the systems
functionality it is of highly importance to analyse our system from the HCI (human computer
interaction) point of view. We must identify whether our system is usable and easy to learn
and if it actually delivers easy walk-through-steps for the individuals with special needs when
they need it. Finally, the last goal of the evaluation is to identify any problems. When the
system is used in real-time situations unexpected problems are likely to occur (Human
computer interaction book).
In order to evaluate our system that is intended for the individuals with ASD, we would test
our system both in the lab and in the field. On the one hand, within the lab, there is specialist
equipment available, such as cameras and scientists who will observe the user during the
testing process. The environment is also uninterrupted which will help the individual not to
be distracted. On the other hand, testing the system out in the field is as essential as the
previous method, since it is in natural environment and throughout this method we would be
able to evaluate our system rather successfully. Field studies also have the advantage of being
able to test and evaluate the system over long period of time. In both methods, users play a
primary role, since without them we would be unable to come to a conclusion whether our
system is successful. Moreover, beyond these methods, interviews and also questionnaires
can be a part of the evaluation process. If a large group is using our system for a long period
of time, it would be relatively important if there were interviewed or questioned about the
functionality of the system and if the initial objectives have been satisfied.