The University of Haifa - Bruno Kessler Foundation Collaboration

Collaboration Coordinators
Prof. Martin C. Golumbic (CRI)
Prof. Oliviero Stock (Bruno Kessler Foundation)


Project Descriptions

Enhancing Social Communication in High-Functioning Children with Autism through a Co-Located Interface

Researchers from Israel:
Nirit Bauminger, Eynat Gal, Dina Goren-Bar, Judy Kupersmitt, Patrice L. (Tamar) Weiss, Rachel Yifat

Researchers from Italy:
Fabio Pianesi, Oliviero Stock, Massimo Zancanaro


  • Autism is a complex developmental disability with symptoms that usually emerge during the first years of life. Children with autism often have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities. Those with high functioning autism (HFA) have a close to normal IQ, and some even exhibit exceptional skill or talent in specific areas. In this research, we use the Diamond Touch interface in the context of a therapeutic intervention aimed at enhancing the ability of children with HFA to interact in a social situation that leads to collaborative story-telling. The results of the pilot study suggest that this technology appears to have a positive effect on improving the quality of social interaction as well as on decreasing the repetitive behaviors that are typical of autism. These positive effects appear to also transfer to other tasks. We hypothesize that this is due to the fact that the setting requires that, at crucial points during the story construction, the subjects agree on relevant steps to be taken and make this physically explicit through joint actions. In other words, the very nature of the scenario requires children with HFA to engage in a number of essential social behaviors which they often refrain from.