Digital artist and researcher in HCI. Cognition and interactive media.

Autism and Tangible User Interfaces

Autism and Tangible User Interfaces

Lilia Villafuerte Bazán / Master thesis director: Dr. Sergi Jordà
Music Technology Group / Universitat Pompeu Fabra / 2011


This study assessed the potential of the Reactable, a musical tangible user interface, to help in the acquisition of joint attention abilities and social interaction in children with Autistic Spectrum Conditions (ASC). With this purpose, nine children with ASC participated in the research, the sample being its own control group, and a simple subject design was developed. The type of design was ABA (Basic Withdrawal). A repeated measures comparison design within subjects was used. The no-intervention baseline phase (A) was 20 minutes of free play session in their regular school space. The intervention phase (B) was three sessions guided by a therapist with the Reactable. The no-intervention withdrawal phase (A) was 20 minutes of free play session with the same conditions as the no-intervention baseline. All the material was video-recorded, and the 100% of the material was analyzed. In addition to the statistical analysis, this study used qualitative methodological tools for analysis of outlier subjects and detection of atypical behavior for future research. The results show a significant increase in the composite variable social interaction and in turn-taking target behavior during the sessions with the Reactable. The theoretical implications of these acquisitions, as well as a discussion of the results, are included in this thesis.


Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC); Autistic Disorder: Empathy; Autistic Disorder: therapy; Collaboration; Behavior therapy; Joint Attention; Music Therapy; Tangible Interface; Social skills training.

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Master’s Thesis


Lilia Villafuerte, Milena Markova, and Sergi Jorda. 2012. Acquisition of social abilities through musical tangible user interface: children with autism spectrum condition and the reactable. In CHI ’12 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA ’12). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 745-760. DOI=10.1145/2212776.2212847