Date of Award

December 2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Engineering

First Advisor

Brian Armstrong

Committee Members

Brian Armstrong, Zhi Zheng, Zeyun Yu

Abstract

Sensory abnormality is one of the important characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD). A large number of studies suggest a strong connection between sensory abnormalities and ASD. Therefore, it is important to assess sensory abnormalities for diagnosis and intervention of ASD. In this thesis study, we aim to develop a virtual reality system that can measure sensory abnormalities in adolescents with ASD. Sensory abnormalities can affect all five senses: touch, vision, smell, taste and auditory. However, in this study, we focus on assessing sensory abnormality in vision and touch sensory processing. Twelve adolescents with ASD and 12 typically developing (TD) adolescents aged 11-17 years participated in the study. Participants were assigned a task in which they interacted with the virtual reality system. The system recorded participants’ behavior and their response to the virtual environment in the real time while they completed the task. We defined four measurements to analyze the behavior of the participants. With the help of the defined measurements, we found some significant differences in the way participants with ASD and TD participants interacted with the virtual environment. Participants also filled a commonly used standard psychological assessment questionnaire called Adult/Adolescent Sensory Profile (AASP). Strong correlations between some of the scores in the questionnaire and their response to the virtual environment were also observed. Therefore, this pilot study supports the use of technology to assess sensory abnormalities and shows that further research into the development of such technology is essential.

Available for download on Thursday, January 07, 2021

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