June 24, 2015
View the Arnold School’s story on how Lily Gullion funded her own project. The below follow-up story was written by Chris Horn and is republished here from UofSC Today.
Lily Gullion had a passion for helping children with disabilities when she came to the University of South Carolina, and it’s taken the exercise science junior all the way to the Netherlands this summer for an intensive research project.
Gullion is working with psychology professors at Radboud University in Nijmegen to refine a set of computer games intended to measure children’s teamwork skills. The computer games, created by Carolina exercise science professor Roger Newman-Norland, could potentially be used in therapy for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
“We've been thinking up many alterations to the games and brainstorming new scenarios,” says Gullion, who received Magellan Scholar funding and set up a successful crowdfunding campaign on her own to cover expenses for the research trip. “They are helping me go through each game and justify them individually as therapeutic methods. We are asking questions like ‘What cognitive process is this game measuring? What aspect of autism is this game trying to help?’”
Newman-Norland’s computer games could allow therapists to quantify the social skills of children on the autistic spectrum, measuring their progress over time.
“Learning about mental and physical disabilities has always left me filled with questions, and I feel somehow obligated to do what I can to make life better for those who are dealt a more challenging hand,” she says. “Autism is intriguing to me because it deals with something that the majority of us find so natural. No one taught you or me to find connections with other humans or to crave interpersonal relationships.”