The perception of human figures has been the focus of research in autism in recent years. An important number of studies have found a relationship between biological motion perception with prognosis in autism (Franchini et al, 2016; Yang et al, 2016). Body posture imitation is a skill with a big dependence on a proper perception of biological motion and the experts have analysed imitation in autism in-depth, concluding that it has a strong role in the development of communication and learning in autism (Nadel, 2015). In addition, body schema knowledge and pointing are also key factors for the development of these areas, which are a central difficulty in autism.

As a consequence, providing supports aimed at compensating difficulties in body schema knowledge, joint attention and imitation is of major importance for the whole development of the child. And so, teachers working with these young children need this knowledge to provide high-quality teaching.


An analysis of the reality of schools has pointed to a lack of resources for assessing the skills of autistic students in the domains of body schema knowledge, pointing and imitation.

Furthermore, it also points to a lack of adequate tools to work on these skills with autistic pupils.

On the other hand, there is no online training available on imitation and autism. This deficit makes it difficult for teachers to design and implement the supports that students with autism need to compensate for their difficulties in this area.


Augmented reality could be a useful technological resource to overcome these difficulties.

Augmented Reality allows the user to look at himself reflected on a screen or on a white and smooth surface and, at the same time, to interact with virtual elements that appear in the scene. This feature gives an exceptional opportunity to work any skill that involves the body.

Activities elaborated for this kind of technology, if are built on a good psychological and pedagogical basis, could help to improve body schema knowledge, joint attention and imitation, contributing to enhanced social understanding. This is an area of particular difficulty for students with ASD, so new avenues for their development and learning could be opened up.

Moreover, there is enough scientific evidence to affirm that even students with autism and severe learning difficulties quickly accept this technology (Pérez-Fuster, 2017; Mademtzi, 2016 and Herrera and Pérez-Fuster, 2019).

The advantages of Augmented Reality for this purpose (using Kinect-like depth sensors) are:

  • Full-body augmented reality does not require the student to be in front of small screens (such as tablets or smartphones) and offers the opportunity of interacting with the body using a wall-sized screen or display, that is a more proper scenario for practising social skills than small-sized screens.

  • Availability of low-cost hardware for creating easy-to-install mirror-like settings, where the user can see him/herself in a digital display with augmented elements created by AR software.

  • Availability of a specific software tool (named “Pictogram Room”) that includes a set of 80 activities specially designed for training young students with autism in body schema knowledge, body postures, pointing and imitation.

  • The possibility of highly customize this tool to fit with each student’ preferences, audio-visual reinforcers and pace of learning.

  • The possibility of using such a system playfully and inclusively, including other typically developing peers in the process of learning.

  • Combining digital augmentations with real images (captured by the camera) will help to generalise learning to social interactions in a natural context.