Data Analysis of Survey Question #5

Jill Fain Lehman, Ph. D.
Senior Research Computer Scientist
Carnegie Mellon Univerisity

Copyright 1998, Jill Fain Lehman. All rights reserved.

Question 5 of the survey asked for three current favorite titles (5a), three most played titles in the past (5b), up to three titles that were disliked (5c) and up to three titles of which the child was afraid (5d). Answers to the request for current and past favorite titles were combined and no rank ordering was inferred from the responses. The ASD group provided 274 responses to questions 5a and 5b, or an average of 5.23 titles per child. The TD group provided 188 responses to questions 5a and 5b, or an average of 4.32 titles per child.

Titles from questions 5a and 5b were placed into one of twelve categories for the purposes of comparison across groups:

Note that the reference category combined both general reference works (e.g., Encarta) and geography titles (e.g., Carmen Sandiego) due to both small numbers (1 geography and 1 reference vote in the TD group) and the similarity of the titles as fact-based material. The following table shows the percentage of each category of title for each population:

Favored Software, by Category and Population
Category ASD TD
Authoring 11% 11%
Game 4% 11%
Language 24% 15%
Math 8% 10%
Mixed/academic 16% 16%
Mixed/other 5% 3%
Music 3% 1%
Problem solving 8% 12%
Reference 4% 1%
Science 8% 7%
Thematic activity center 6% 7%
Unknown 4% 5%

The bulk of the difference between the populations appears to lie in the disparity between use of games (especially, shoot 'em ups) and language-related software. This makes sense in light of two factors revealed above: ASD children's aversion to competition and the majority of purchases made by parents.

Of the 44 typically-developing children represented in the survey, 16 (36%) expressed a dislike for at least one software title they had tried and 3 (7%) expressed fear in connection with at least one title. For the children with ASD, the percentages were 47% (25/53) and 13% (7/53) for dislike and fear, respectively. Although the trend is in the direction we would expect (less satisfaction for the ASD children with off-the-shelf titles), neither measure shows a significant difference between groups.