The two-years Erasmus + project ARBIT (Augmented reality for body knowledge, pointing and imitation training in autism) starting in 2020, aims to reduce disparities in accessing and engaging with formal and non-formal education of students with autism and learning difficulties, in order to promote their social inclusion.
That´s why ARBIT´s project propose an “innovative approach” which is the use of Augmented Reality (AR) technology to promote equal opportunities for all in acquiring and developing key competencies, including basic skills.
This proposed AR solution has been designed to teach young children with autism and intellectual disability to focus on social aspects of non-verbal communication (including body language, pointing and imitation), by visually highlighting those aspects with the help of AR.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behaviour (APA, 2013). Nadel (2015) has analysed imitation in autism in-depth, concluding that it has a strong role in the development of communication and learning in autism. Providing supports aimed at compensating imitation difficulties is of major importance for the whole development of the child and AR technologies have several advantages for this purpose.
Funded by the European Commission, the outputs of this project target both students with autism and their families and also the teachers that work daily with them in their classrooms (autism-specific or mainstream classrooms).
To achieve these goals, the ARBIT project will carry out a research study to test the efficacy of this AR tool in educating students with autism on body knowledge, pointing and imitating. In addition, it will devolop a MOOC for professionals in the educational field on the use of AR for imitation in autism and other related skillsAll these products will be disseminated to teachers and parents through three multiplier events in Ávila and Valladolid in Spain and another in Konya, Turkey.
The ARBIT project will use the Pictogram Room tool, an AR software that includes a set of 80 activities specially designed for training young students with autism in body knowledge, body postures, pointing and imitation. This tool is highly customizable to fit with each student’ preferences, audio-visual reinforcers and pace of learning. Can be used playfully and inclusively, including other typically developing peers in the process of learning and it can facilitate the generalisation of learning because it allows skills to be trained in a real context.
Nine partners from four different countries come together in the ARBIT partnership, composed by three schools (TREBOL, AA-CSRIAS and KARATAY), two regional public bodies (CFIE, KONYA IL MEM), a regional society for autism (Castilla-Leon Autism Federacion), a national foundation for technology and autism (ADAPTA) and two Universities (UVEG and EPHE).