open autism software logo Open Autism Software
Where social skills and interest in computers meet
Open Autism Software aims to design, develop, evaluate and distribute open source software for people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). We believe the open source approach provides advantages in helping engage a highly-motivated community of parents and researchers while providing outcomes that are freely accessible. This is particularly important given the lack of free resources available to children and adults diagnosed with ASD. In addition, our open source software targets commoditized hardware with the goal of making the technologies we develop as widely available as possible.

Open Autism Software is housed at the University of Iowa's Department of Computer Science. Our initial work was funded by the University of Iowa and by the Iowa Department of Education through our University's Regional Autism Services Program, one of the Child Health Specialty Clinics. We have conducted iterative development and evaluation of technologies at Hoover Elementary School in Iowa City with the help of the Grant Wood Area Education Agency, and at the Four Oaks afterschool program for children with Asperger's syndrome located in Cedar Rapids. We conducted an additional evaluation with an afterschool program hosted by Iowa City's Children's Center for Therapy. We also received feedback and help from local support groups of parents and adults diagnosed with ASD.

Our project was recently featured in a Wall Street Journal article and on Iowa City's Press Citizen.

Faculty: Juan Pablo Hourcade
Consultant: Natasha Bullock-Rest
Alumni: Thomas Hansen, Kelsey Huebner, Elle Miller, Stacy Williams, Lucas Liang, Ricardo Auguste, Joel Lipkowitz


Hourcade, J.P., Williams, S.R., Miller, E.A., Huebner, K.E. and Liang, L.J.. (2013). Evaluation of tablet apps to encourage social interaction in children with autism spectrum disorders. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '13). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 3197-3206. Honorable Mention.

Hourcade, J.P., Bullock-Rest, N.E. and Hansen, T.E. (2012). Multitouch tablet applications and activities to enhance the social skills of children with autism spectrum disorders. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 16(2), 157-168. The final publication is available at DOI: 10.1007/s00779-011-0383-3

Questions? Contact Prof. Juan Pablo Hourcade at