Eye Gaze Tracking of Children with Autism and the Use of E-Books
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Studies have shown that children with autism spectrum disorder have lower literacy skills such as print-concept knowledge than children with typical development and are below their grade level in reading. Technology and the use of E-books can be a helpful tool in teaching literacy skills to children. This study uses eye-gaze technology to assess the progress made by 6 male preschool-aged children diagnosed with autism after completing the HeadsproutⓇ Early Reading (HER) program. At two different time points, before the participants participated in HER and after, the participants were each read two episodes from HER (episode 40 and 80) while having the pages, each with text and an illustration, displayed on a screen. Eye-gaze tracking technology was used to track the children’s total fixation durations and total fixation counts of the fullscreen, illustrations, and the text on the screen as the story was read to them. The results show that both length of total fixation duration and total fixation count decreased between the time points for the fullscreen and the picture for episode 40. This would indicate that the children were spending less time engaging with the storybook. While this is not congruent with what previous studies have found, perhaps tracking fixations on a page is not an accurate portrayal of literacy ability. Further research should be conducted before definite conclusions are made.