Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 41, Issue 11, pp 1543–1555 | Cite as

Avatar Assistant: Improving Social Skills in Students with an ASD Through a Computer-Based Intervention

  • Ingrid Maria Hopkins
  • Michael W. Gower
  • Trista A. Perez
  • Dana S. Smith
  • Franklin R. Amthor
  • F. Casey Wimsatt
  • Fred J. Biasini
Original paper

Abstract

This study assessed the efficacy of FaceSay, a computer-based social skills training program for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). This randomized controlled study (N = 49) indicates that providing children with low-functioning autism (LFA) and high functioning autism (HFA) opportunities to practice attending to eye gaze, discriminating facial expressions and recognizing faces and emotions in FaceSay’s structured environment with interactive, realistic avatar assistants improved their social skills abilities. The children with LFA demonstrated improvements in two areas of the intervention: emotion recognition and social interactions. The children with HFA demonstrated improvements in all three areas: facial recognition, emotion recognition, and social interactions. These findings, particularly the measured improvements to social interactions in a natural environment, are encouraging.

Keywords

Autism Intervention Emotion recognition Facial recognition Social interactions Generalization 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ingrid Maria Hopkins
    • 1
  • Michael W. Gower
    • 1
  • Trista A. Perez
    • 1
  • Dana S. Smith
    • 1
  • Franklin R. Amthor
    • 1
  • F. Casey Wimsatt
    • 2
  • Fred J. Biasini
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA
  2. 2.Symbionica, LLCSan JoseUSA

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