Feb 07, 2023

Development of Home-based Augmented Reality Social Story Training Modules For Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in South Africa, Thailand, and Taiwan


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disability with increasing prevalence worldwide. There is an urgent need to develop appropriate and effective interventions for improving the communication and self-regulation skills of children with ASD. Children with ASD are found to have impairments in emotion regulation. Individuals with ASD have been observed to have emotion dysregulation in many situations. With these two core symptoms, children with ASD have problems understanding non-verbal communication which subsequently leads to their inability to understand their and others’ emotions. Therefore, emotion dysregulation is a challenge for children with ASD. Improving developmental abilities and emotion regulation abilities should be regarded as important goals for early interventions.

Our research network draws on three distinct cultural contexts to develop and test the feasibility and effectiveness of the home-based Augmented Reality (AR) social story training modules for preschool children with ASD across three countries. The home-based AR social story training modules are designed based on the perspectives of occupational therapists and nurses from three countries (Taiwan, South Africa, and Thailand).This study aims to examine whether the improvements in communication, social interaction skills, and emotional regulation skills of preschool children with ASD across three regions will be observed after using the AR home-based social story training modules. This study will also examine if the home-based AR social story training modules will improve parents’ parenting skills as well as reduce parenting stress. In this study, a cross-cultural comparison will be made of similarities and differences of these dependent variables by country. Primary investigators in Taiwan and co-investigators in South Africa and Thailand will develop the home-based AR social story training modules and use the same intervention protocol. Cultural differences will be mainly focused on in all data analyses.

This study is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 “to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”, in order to create health, development, and social inclusion of children with ASD. In addition, SDG 3 aims to support responses to reduce the impact on children and families. This project aims to provide appropriate and thorough information to develop adequate medical care, education, and early intervention services for young children with ASD and their families in Taiwan, South Africa, and Thailand.

This research group works towards building:

  • A map of the home-based AR social story training modules experiences in our four participating WUN universities
  • A piece of sufficient information to assist the implementation of early interventions for young children with ASD.
  • A standard treatment manual and provide information for implementing the home-based AR social story training modules for different cultural contexts.