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A Context-Senitive Device to Help People with Autism Cope with Anxiety

Study: 
Mohammedali, M., et al. (2011), A Context-Sensitive Device to Help People with Autism Cope with Anxiety, CHI '11 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 1201-1206.
Design: 
Mohammedali et al, 2011, presented an app to reduce anxiety in adolescents with autism. They found overall positive results with some concern about ease of use and fixation.

We describe a smartphone application that helps people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) cope with anxiety attacks. Our prototype provides a one-touch interface for indicating a panic level. The device's response - to instruct, soothe, and/or contact carers - is sensitive to the user's context, consisting of time, location, ambient noise, and nearby friends. Formative evaluation unearths a critical challenge to building assistive technologies for ASD sufferers: can regimented interfaces foster flexible behaviour? Our observations suggest that a delicate balance of design goals is required for a viable assistive technology.