Children with autism and composite tactile-visual toys during parent-child interaction
Based on sensory integration theory, six fabric samples containing tactile and visual stimuli were selected using the sensory perceptions of designers and combined with balls. Experiments involving these toys were implemented with 15 families with preschool-aged high-functioning autistic children. The results showed that (a) loose sequin (No. 15), which possessed equal tactile and visual intensities, was strongly correlated with frequent smiling/laughing and high enjoyment levels. The fabric provided a loose tactile sensation regarding surface interweave uniformity and a bright visual sensation regarding visually perceived luster; (b) suede (No. 5) exhibited a greater tactile intensity than visual intensity and was correlated with eye contact and activity response. This fabric possessed a smooth visual sensation regarding visually perceived smoothness; and (c) loose sequin (No. 15), which possessed equal tactile and visual intensities, was highly correlated with finger pointing and initiation. This fabric offered a thin tactile sensation regarding surface interweave thickness and a bright visual sensation regarding visually perceived luster. We suggest applying fabrics to composite toys. Specifically, loose sequin can be used initially to encourage autistic children to interact; subsequently, suede can enable sustained parent-child interaction. The experimental results provide a reference for establishing an innovative toy-design method for autistic children. Keywords: autism; sensory integration theory; parent-child interaction; toys
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