MSc in Computer Science and Engineering, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, 2015 (Best MSc thesis on Language Technology for Portuguese)
Supervisors: Luísa Coheur e Alberto Sardinha
An Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability characterized by impairments in social communication and interaction that often comprises difficulties in the acquisition of verbal language skills. In order to improve the quality of life for individuals with ASD, and given their documented interest in computers, several researchers and companies have developed applications that aim to provide an alternative to verbal communication or a way for children with ASD to develop linguistic skills, necessary for verbal communication. However, there is a lack of applications in Portuguese that are tailored to the individual needs of each child. In this context, we present VITHEA-Kids, a platform that accounts for the needs of different children, as well as their caregivers, by providing an interface where caregivers can create exercises and customize various aspects of the interaction with the platform. We also developed a module that allows the automatic generation of multiple choice exercises, meant to be integrated in VITHEA-Kids. Our platform is under evaluation on multiple fronts: a preliminary evaluation with caregivers (which provided promising indicators), an evaluation with a child (ongoing) and an evaluation of the generation of incorrect answers (distractors) in multiple choice exercises (which resulted in acceptance rates between 61.11% and 92.22%).