Interactive sonification to assist children with autism during motor therapeutic interventions

Franceli Cibrian*, Judith Ley-Flores, Joseph Newbold, Aneesha Singh, Nadia Bianchi-Berthouze, Monica Tentori

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


Interactive sonification is an effective tool used to guide individuals when practicing movements. Little research has shown the use of interactive sonification in supporting motor therapeutic interventions for children with autism who exhibit motor impairments. The goal of this research is to study if children with autism understand the use of interactive sonification during motor therapeutic interventions, its potential impact of interactive sonification in the development of motor skills in children with autism, and the feasibility of using it in specialized schools for children with autism. We conducted two deployment studies in Mexico using Go-with-the-Flow, a framework to sonify movements previously developed for chronic pain rehabilitation. In the first study, six children with autism were asked to perform the forward reach and lateral upper-limb exercises while listening to three different sound structures (i.e., one discrete and two continuous sounds). Results showed that children with autism exhibit awareness about the sonification of their movements and engage with the sonification. We then adapted the sonifications based on the results of the first study, for motor therapy of children with autism. In the next study, nine children with autism were asked to perform upper-limb lateral, cross-lateral, and push movements while listening to five different sound structures (i.e., three discrete and two continues) designed to sonify the movements. Results showed that discrete sound structures engage the children in the performance of upper-limb movements and increase their ability to perform the movements correctly. We finally propose design considerations that could guide the design of projects related to interactive sonification.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391–410
Number of pages20
JournalPersonal and Ubiquitous Computing
Issue number2
Early online date27 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021


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