Improving facial expression recognition in children with autism spectrum disorder: effectiveness of a computer assisted intervention

Date

2017-10-04

Authors

Murphy, Patrick N.

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Abstract

Evidence suggests that computer assisted interventions (CAI) have advantages over other types of instruction when teaching children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). A growing number of technology based tools for use in educational settings have been developed to address specific deficits associated with ASD; namely poor facial expression recognition. Given the proliferation of CAIs, there is an urgent need to test their application in real world and clinical settings. Based on previous research on the success of CAIs to support children with ASD in this area, this research was developed as a small scale pilot study to explore the feasibility and potential educational benefits of the relatively new CAI; Let’s Face It! Scrapbook (LFI!). This study examined the viability of the LFI! program in a clinical setting in which two groups of children with ASD worked one-on-one with behavioural interventionists to develop necessary life skills. The experimental condition (n=3) which received natural environment teaching (NET) of emotions plus LFI! exercises preformed better on tasks of facial expressions recognition in post-tests than the control condition (n=3) which received only natural environment teaching. Participating behavioural interventionists reporting on their experiences using the app. preferred this method of teaching citing the greater available teaching material, the enriched level of engagement required between client and interventionist, and the fun nature of the program. Though small in nature, the results of this pilot study would suggest that the LFI! program is a viable tool for use when training facial expression recognition with clients with ASD in clinical settings.

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Keywords

autism, emotions training, emotions recognition, computer assisted intervention

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