Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 685–693 | Cite as

Brief Report: The Smiles of a Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder During an Animal-assisted Activity May Facilitate Social Positive Behaviors—Quantitative Analysis with Smile-detecting Interface

  • Atsushi FunahashiEmail author
  • Anna Gruebler
  • Takeshi Aoki
  • Hideki Kadone
  • Kenji Suzuki
Brief Report


We quantitatively measured the smiles of a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD-C) using a wearable interface device during animal-assisted activities (AAA) for 7 months, and compared the results with a control of the same age. The participant was a 10-year-old boy with ASD, and a normal healthy boy of the same age was the control. They voluntarily participated in this study. Neither child had difficulty putting on the wearable device. They kept putting on the device comfortably through the entire experiment (duration of a session was about 30–40 min). This study was approved by the Ethical Committee based on the rules established by the Institute for Developmental Research, Aichi Human Service Center. The behavior of the participants during AAA was video-recorded and coded by the medical examiner (ME). In both groups, the smiles recognized by the ME corresponded with the computer-detected smiles. In both groups, positive social behaviors increased when the smiles increased. Also, negative social behaviors decreased when the smiles increased in the (ASD-C). It is suggested that by leading the (ASD-C) into a social environment that may cause smiling, the child’s social positive behaviors may be facilitated and his social negative behaviors may be decreased.


Autism spectrum disorder Animal-assisted activity Smile-detecting interface 



We are grateful to the families who gave their time to participate in this study. We are also very grateful to Harumi Kikumoto, and Masakazu Hirokawa, for sharing their work and methods with us.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Atsushi Funahashi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anna Gruebler
    • 2
  • Takeshi Aoki
    • 3
  • Hideki Kadone
    • 4
  • Kenji Suzuki
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Education and Social Service, Institute for Developmental ResearchAichi Human Service CenterKasugaiJapan
  2. 2.Graduate School of Systems and Information EngineeringUniversity of TsukubaTsukubaJapan
  3. 3.Chubu Animal Assisted Therapy AssociationChikusa-ku, NagoyaJapan
  4. 4.Center for Cybernics ResearchUniversity of TsukubaTsukubaJapan
  5. 5.The Japan Science and Technology AgencyKawaguchiJapan

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