Developing Computational Thinking Skills in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder through Digital Game Programming

Muñoz, Roberto; Villarroel, R.; Riquelme, Fabián; Quezada, A.; Bustos-Valenzuela, P.; Barcelos, T.
In the last years, many didactic activities have been proposed to develop Computational Thinking (CT) skills in children and adolescents. Among these activities, digital game programming stands out as a promising alternative considering that it is related to a familiar and motivating context for students. These initiatives are not specifically aimed at individuals with special needs such as the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Children and adolescents with ASD usually have some limitations related to communication, cognitive flexibility, and interpersonal relationships. However, it seems natural that skills potentially developed through game programming activities are especially beneficial for the public with ASD. In this article we describe the offering and evaluation of a Game Building Workshop adapted to adolescents with this condition. The guidelines used to define the workshop activities are described. An assessment based on classroom observation and analysis of produced artifacts indicate that the participants acquired CT skills related to programming at a high level. Also, the collaborative nature of the activities offered a stimulating and welcoming environment for individuals with ASD.
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