International conference looks at helping autistic people into employment

University news

Friday 08 June 2012

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Coventry University will play host to the iSpectrum conference in June, where the use of serious games as a way to increase employability for those on the autistic spectrum will be showcased.

This free event - taking place on 19th June, 9.30am-4pm at the Technology Park, Coventry - will demonstrate the iSpectrum serious game as well as featuring a range of speakers presenting and leading discussions on the issue of employability for autistic people and how games can be used to address this.

The conference is the culmination of two years work by a consortium, which includes Coventry University’s Serious Games Institute, and is funded through the European Commission's Lifelong Learning Programme. Guest speakers on the day include Mary Matthews, Strategy and Business Development Director at Blitz Games and John Simpson, giving his experience of gaining employment whilst on the autism spectrum.

Unemployment among people on the autistic spectrum is quite high; with issues such as poor interpersonal skills often at the root of the problem. iSpectrum simulates the first day at work and allows the player to familiarise themselves with certain possible situations in a variety of work environments.

Aimed at professionals working with autistic people, the game is a tool they can use to practice certain work related situations with their clients. Users will be able to learn, understand and act out different social roles as an employee and carry out a series of tasks to develop employability and social interaction skills.

Dr Alex Woolner, Senior Researcher at SGI, said:

The beauty of this game is that it addresses an issue that is affecting more and more people around the world. It highlights not only the challenge for individuals on the spectrum in finding employment, but also for employers to integrate people with unique skills into their companies. Hopefully projects such as iSpectrum can start to bridge this gap, developing skills and understanding on both sides.