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This article describes how collaborative assistive technologies, housed on off-the-shelf, low-cost platforms such as the iPad, can be used to facilitate social relationships in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Through an empirical study of the use of a collaborative iPad game, Zody, we explore how assistive technologies can be used to support social relationships, even without intervention from adults. We discuss how specific design choices can encourage three levels of social relationship: membership, partnership, and friendship. This work contributes to research on both assistive technologies and collaborative gaming through a framework that describes how specific in-game elements can foster social skill development for children with ASD.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing, volume 7, issue 1, in 2015 following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at


Association for Computing Machinery