Appendix A: Survey Distributed Via Internet

Survey distributed to autism@maelstrom.stjohns.edu and aspberger@maelstrom.stjohns.edu (for surveys distributed to lists targetting typically-developing children, see below).


SURVEY ON COMPUTERS AND KIDS WITH ASD
Dear Participant,

Thank you for agreeing to participate in this survey on the use of computers by children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD). This study is part of a larger research project whose focus is the design of language intervention software for children with ASD. The answers to the questions below should help us understand which features of software are important and engaging to this population and whether those features differ from the features that are engaging to children who are not developmentally delayed. I realize that the questionnaire turned out to be longer than any of us expected -- I hope your patience will be rewarded by knowing that the information you provide will directly affect our software design process.

Directions for the 4 types of questions in this survey:

  1. Fill in the blank, see 1a and 4e, asking for one or two-word responses.
  2. Choice list, see 4a, consisting of a question followed by a set of choices. If you are filling out the questionnaire on a computer, you should simply delete all of the choices that DO NOT apply to your child; if you are filling out the questionnaire with paper and pen, clearly mark those choices that DO APPLY.
  3. Example list, see 5a. asking for 3 (or fewer) examples of some kind. Please do not add more examples to the list unless absolutely necessary!
  4. Rating scale, see 6a, asking you to assign a rating to each item on the list. Rate only those items about which you feel confident of your opinion. Just write "don't know" or "DK" next to those items about which you do not feel confident making a judgment.
If you have more than one child who qualifies for this survey, please send the information for each child on a separate piece of paper or as a separate e-mail message. If you know of other parents, teachers, or therapists who might be willing to complete the survey, please feel free to make copies and pass them along.

To ensure anonymity in the analysis and presentation or publication of the results of this survey, each child will be assigned a unique identifier. The correspondence between the child and the identifier will be known only to myself, and all data will be identified by ID only. On-line data identified by ID will be password-protected with access only to project members. (You received this questionnaire as a blind carbon copy so that no other participants would see your email address).

All participants will receive a summary of results in either hard-copy or web-accessible form. If you have questions or comments, please contact:

Dr. Jill Fain Lehman
School of Computer Science
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
412-268-6246
jef@cs.cmu.edu

>>> PLEASE RETURN QUESTIONNAIRES BY MAY 17, 1997. <<<

Once again, THANK YOU for your time, effort and information!


Your name & e-mail address (both optional):

1a. Child's name or initials:
b. Age/Sex:
c. Diagnosis:
d. Your relationship to child:
Parent
Therapist
Teacher
Other (please specify)
e. Is your child's education:
Home-schooled
Special education classroom
Partially mainstreamed
Fully mainstreamed w/ support
Fully mainstreamed

2. Is your child's communication primarily:
None, does not communicate
Picture or gesture
Single signs
Combines 2 or 3 signs
Full sentences
Verbal
Single words
Combines 2 or 3 words
Full sentences

3a. Does your child read?
b. If so, was he/she self-taught before age 6?

4a. Who chooses software?
Child
Parent
Therapist
School

b. If you choose the software, is your choice based on:
Educational value
Therapeutic value
Entertainment or reward value
Other (specify)

c. If you chose more than one reason in 4b, which reason is most important?

d. At what age did your child master basic computer interaction (e.g. switch, joystick or mouse)?

e. Does your child read the user manual that comes with the game?

f. What type of computer system does your child use most (e.g. Mac/PC)?

5a. What are your child's favorite titles RIGHT NOW?
TitleActivities on title*How long has he/sheHrs/day?
been using it?
(1)
(2)
(3)
* If your child plays mostly one or a few activities on the disc, please list them, otherwise put "all".

5b. What are most-played PAST titles?
TitleActivities on titleAge when it became a favorite
(1)
(2)
(3)

5c. Names of titles your child DISLIKED:
TitleActivities on title?Age?
(1)
(2)
(3)

5d. Names of titles your child was AFRAID OF:
TitleActivities on title?Age?
(1)
(2)
(3)

6a. How important is each of the following features to your child WHEN USING A COMPUTER? Give a number from 1 to 5 according to this scale:

1 = Dislikes it, 3 = Doesn't care, 5 = Very important

Clear goal (e.g. get 10 points, answer all questions)
Visible reward (e.g. pts going up, stickers awarded)
Sound effects
Music
Randomness (e.g. different puzzle each time)
Speed of response counts
Visual effects (e.g. animations)
Competition
Multiple difficulty levels
Involves fantasy or role-playing

Use of animated character guides
Use of on-line help
No reading required
Text in addition to auditory info
Rich visual detail

Relevant theme (e.g. trains, maps)
Particular subject matter (e.g. math, science, stories, painting)
Open-ended/child-controlled activity (e.g. painting, exploration)
Program-guided activity (e.g. math drill, Carmen Sandiego)
Fact-based activity (e.g. Jeopardy style game, math problems)

A variety of activities on the disc
Ability to use alone
Ability to use with another person

6b. If theme or subject matter is important to your child when playing on the computer, please list the most important themes or subjects:
ThemeSubject
(1)
(2)
(3)

6c. On a scale of 1-5 how important is each of the following features to your child WHEN ENGAGING IN A NON-COMPUTER ACTIVITY? Give a number from 1 to 5 according to this scale:

1 = Dislikes it, 3 = Doesn't care, 5 = Very important

Clear goal
Visible reward
Music
Randomness
Speed of response counts
Visual information
Competition
Multiple difficulty levels
Involves fantasy or role-playing
No reading required
Text in addition to auditory info
Rich visual detail

Relevant theme
Particular subject matter
Open-ended/child-controlled
Activity guided by another person
Fact-based activity

A variety of activities available
Ability to do alone
Ability to do with another person

7. Would you like to be part of a Web-accessible registry of individuals interested in computers & autism? Your entry in the registry would include only your name, email address, and your child's sex and age. The purpose of the registry is to provide a way for people who are working with autistic children who love computers to find each other.


Surveys were distributed to the control group of typically-developing children via the lists chi-kids@acm.org, netnews.misc.kids.computer, netnews.alt.comp.shareware.for-kids, netnews.alt.education.home-school, netnews.misc.kids, and crc@classroom.net. These surveys were identical to the one above except for the following: the title was written as SURVEY ON COMPUTERS AND KIDS, the introductory paragraph was modified, the return date changed depending on the date the questionnaire was sent out (allowing approximately two weeks for a response), the wording of question 1c was changed, and question 7 was omitted.

The substituted introductory paragraph was:

"Thank you for agreeing to participate in this survey on the use of computers by children. The survey is part of a larger research project whose focus is the design of language intervention software for children with austism. Comparing YOUR answers to the questions below with those collected from the parents of young children with autism will help us understand which features of software are important and engaging to autistic children and whether those features differ from the features that are engaging to children who are developing normally. I hope your effort will be rewarded by knowing that the information you provide will directly affect our software design process."

The rewording of question 1c. substituted the following:

c. Does your child have a diagnosed disability?
no
yes (please specify)