Computer-Assisted Face Processing Instruction Improves Emotion Recognition, Mentalizing, and Social Skills in Students with ASD

Abstract

This study examined the extent to which a computer-based social skills intervention called FaceSay™ was associated with improvements in affect recognition, mentalizing, and social skills of school-aged children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). FaceSay™ offers students simulated practice with eye gaze, joint attention, and facial recognition skills. This randomized control trial included school-aged children meeting educational criteria for autism (N = 31). Results demonstrated that participants who received the intervention improved their affect recognition and mentalizing skills, as well as their social skills. These findings suggest that, by targeting face-processing skills, computer-based interventions may produce changes in broader cognitive and social-skills domains in a cost- and time-efficient manner.

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Acknowledgments

The author thanks Moorpark Unified School District, the Director of Special Education, Richard Jenkins, Casey Wimsatt at Symbionica, LLC, and the faculty and staff of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

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Correspondence to Linda Marie Rice.

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Rice, L.M., Wall, C.A., Fogel, A. et al. Computer-Assisted Face Processing Instruction Improves Emotion Recognition, Mentalizing, and Social Skills in Students with ASD. J Autism Dev Disord 45, 2176–2186 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-015-2380-2

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Keywords

  • Intervention
  • Computer-assisted instruction
  • Emotion recognition
  • Mentalizing
  • Social interactions