Posted on 14th July 2015

Autism&Uni in the Summer 2015

July and August 2015 are turning out to be a very busy time in the Autism&Uni project, with a major part of crucial development focusing on the summer months. Doctoral student Alejandro Montes García (image above) from the Technical University of Eindhoven is now in a central role, developing the adaptive features of the interactive apps. Some of the background to his work can be read in a paper just published for the User Modeling, Adaptation and Personalization conference.

The paper gives an overview of how adaptive applications that allow the user to control privacy settings can be used to help autistic students succeed in a higher education environment. The range of potential adaptations is based on the idea of connecting certain characteristics of autism to cognitive/learning styles and providing adaptive features tailored to these styles, as was investigated in the PhD thesis of Dr Natalia Stash.

Within the project, Alejandro’s software tools will be used to implement six scenarios created by the Autism&Uni project team on the basis of our survey and literature review. These scenarios provide the framework for the core content that the Autism&Uni apps will deliver. Each of these scenarios is combined with selected features of the software. The themes that will be covered are: reasons for declaring a disability, forming realistic expectations, finding study locations, typical study situations, navigating difficult situations, and the needs assessment process for UK universities.

In July, the work will continue with a prototyping workshop, conducted at Leeds Beckett University, that will directly involve young students on the autism spectrum in the design of the toolkit. The project’s conference workshop at the British Human-Computer Interaction Conference on July 14th has attracted academics from across the UK and from continental Europe, so we are looking forward to an active and fruitful exchange of ideas. The prototype apps are expected to incorporate ideas from both workshops, and to be ready for translation and evaluation in partner countries from August onwards.

As the toolkit is taking shape, the project partners are considering ways to make it accessible and available to students and professionals in their respective countries. Starting off the final dissemination stages, the prototype apps will be on display at the Autscape conference in Giggleswick, UK, August 21st-24th.The project’s end results will be presented at international conferences early in 2016, including the World Autism Organisation conference, January 15th-17th in Herning, Denmark. Other dates and locations will be confirmed later and posted on our front page as well as this blog.


Further reading:

Conference paper from the Technical University of Eindhoven, outlining ideas on autistic learning/cognitive styles and adaptive software: Adaptive Applications to Assist Students with Autism in Succeeding in Higher Education

PhD thesis by Dr Natalia Stash