FriendStar: An Interactive Social Story

Project Overview

Autism is one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the U.S. Recent reports show that 1 in 68 8-year-olds was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Deficits in social communication and reciprocity reflect a key feature of ASD. Such deficits are associated with significant functional impairment and growing public health costs. There is thus a pressing need to understand how to improve the social skills of the youth so that they can better integrate into their family and community.

In collaboration with the Drexel Autism Institute, this project develops Interactive Social Stories (ISS), an approach that expands the existing intervention of Social Stories with interactive narrative techniques of variability and branch- ing structure. Inspired by the errorless learning design paradigm, we designed FriendStar, a mobile game containing a series of interactive social stories about the social skills of greeting and making new friends in school. Our key contribution is to apply these interactive narrative techniques to the relatively new domain of Autism intervention to encourage exploration and potentially better learning outcome.


FriendStar: An Interactive Social Story for Children with ASD




Conference Proceedings 

  • J. Zhu, C. M. Kerns, J. Connell, and N. Lyon, “Using Interactive Social Story Games to Teach Social Skills to Children with Autism,” in Proceedings of the First Joint International Conference of DiGRA and FDG, Dundee, Scotland, 2016. [PDF]
  • J. Zhu, J. Connell, C. M. Kerns, N. Lyon, N. Vecere, D. Lim, C. Myers, “Toward Interactive Social Stories for Children with Autism,” in Proceedings of the 2014 ACM SIGCHI Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (CHI PLAY), 2014, pp. 453-454. [PDF]