Perceiving Through Colors: Visual Supports for Children with Autism
Authors: Neda Barbazi, Cecilia Xi Wang
Abstract: Visual supports are a communication tool for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to expand their interaction with their surroundings. Interventions to assist children with autism include visual resources as cognitive methods to help them understand concepts, communicate needs, and better navigate their world. One of the key elements in effective visual interaction with an essential effect on autistic children’s behavior is color. Prior studies demonstrated that various colors have different impacts on children with autism. Responses to color are both physiological and psychological. Children with ASD may show unusual sensory processing and perception, as observed by anecdotal evidence from persons with autism and their parents, caregivers, and teachers, suggesting that autistic children may perceive colors differently compared to neurotypical children. Colors’ effect on ASD children may extend well beyond what we imagine. We should not neglect the importance of the particular color effect to avoid sensory overload and attain an optimal setting for children with ASD. Our research tries to further investigate and highlight the relationship between autism and colors by decoding the need of autistic children as follows: (i) whether the color perception is atypical in these children, (ii) highlighting autism-friendly colors, (iii) underlining what colors can improve ASD children’s interaction skills and attention span in different settings. This need-finding study extracted from the existing research and the feedback of users and clinical professionals to identify categories of needs and in-depth observations to understand those categories. Based on our literature review, anecdotal, and observational methods, the results emphasize the need for (i) an in-depth investigation of the physiological and psychological color’s effect; (ii) efficient and reliable tracking methods for unbiased, passive data collection considering challenges associated with the extensive and often unknown interaction characteristics of each autism spectrum; (iii) thorough data analysis and hidden pattern discovery of the collected high-dimensional data; and (iv) adaptive and customizable technology-based guidelines for parents, caregivers, teachers of autistic children, and persons with autism themselves.
Keywords: Autism, Visual Support, Color, Need Finding
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