Supporting practitioners in social story interventions: the ISISS Authoring Tool
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Children with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) have difficulties in learning social and communication skills. This leads to impairments in social interaction, including lack of understanding others’ intentions, emotions, and mental states, and impairments in communication both verbal and nonverbal. One of the most widely used interventions that addresses social and communication skills is the “social story”. A social story aims to support children with ASC in coping with their own behaviour. Practitioners use social stories to present specific scenarios and to help children understand how they should respond. However, the development of social stories is time consuming, and teachers comment that it is difficult to share them as a resource for others or to customise them to individual children, using their current tools. This thesis explores how a social story authoring tool can be designed, developed and evaluated. The final aim is to better support practitioners in writing, using and assessing social stories for children with ASC compared with their current approaches. A series of studies with practitioners and researchers was carried out to inform the design of a social story authoring tool and to evaluate it. A framework for social stories was built with the purpose of informing the design. Based on this framework, a prototype was iteratively designed and developed. The final prototype (ISISSImproving Social Interaction through Social Stories) was evaluated with practitioners with experience in social story interventions. The evaluation showed that ISISS is perceived by practitioners to be a considerable improvement over their current approaches. The methodology employed in this research combines Action Research, User-Centred Design and Participatory Design. Practitioners and researchers were empowered with different roles at different research stages in order to maximise their contributions to the development process.