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Neurological Music Therapy uses live music to improve the sensorimotor regulation of children with severe autism. However, they often lack musical training and their impairments limit their interactions with musical instruments. In this paper, we present our co-design work that led to the BendableSound prototype: an elastic multisensory surface encouraging users to practice coordination movements when touching a fabric to play sounds. We present the results of a formative study conducted with 18 teachers showing BendableSound was perceived as “usable” and “attractive”. Then, we present a deployment study with 24 children with severe autism showing BendableSound is “easy to use” and may potentially have therapeutic benefits regarding attention and motor development. We propose a set of design insights that could guide the design of natural user interfaces, particularly elastic multisensory surfaces. We close with a discussion and directions for future work.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in International Journal of Human-Computer Studies. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, volume 107, in 2017.

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