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

Department of Psychology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1300 University Blvd., CH 328, Birmingham, AL 35924-1170, USA.
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (Impact Factor: 3.06). 02/2011; 41(11):1543-55. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-011-1179-z
Source: PubMed

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.

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    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.
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 02/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10803-015-2380-2 · 3.34 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This randomized controlled trial evaluated the efficacy of a computer software (i.e., Mind Reading) and in vivo rehearsal treatment on the emotion decoding and encoding skills, autism symptoms, and social skills of 43 children, ages 7–12 years with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (HFASD). Children in treatment (n = 22) received the manualized protocol over 12 weeks. Primary analyses indicated significantly better posttest performance for the treatment group (compared to controls) on 3 of the 4 measures of emotion decoding and encoding and these were maintained at 5-week follow-up. Analyses of secondary measures favored the treatment group for 1 of the 2 measures; specifically, ASD symptoms were significantly lower at posttest and follow-up.
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 02/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10803-015-2374-0 · 3.34 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Limited accuracy and speed in facial recognition (FR) and in the identification of facial emotions (IFE) have been shown in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). This study aimed at evaluating the predictive value of atypicalities in FR and IFE for future symptom severity in children with ASD. Therefore we performed a seven-year follow-up study in 87 children with ASD. FR and IFE were assessed in childhood (T1: age 6-12) using the Amsterdam Neuropsychological Tasks (ANT). Symptom severity was assessed using the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) in childhood and again seven years later during adolescence (T2: age 12-19). Multiple regression analyses were performed to investigate whether FR and IFE in childhood predicted ASD symptom severity in adolescence, while controlling for ASD symptom severity in childhood. We found that more accurate FR significantly predicted lower adolescent ASD symptom severity scores (ΔR(2) = .09), even when controlling for childhood ASD symptom severity. IFE was not a significant predictor of ASD symptom severity in adolescence. From these results it can be concluded, that in children with ASD the accuracy of FR in childhood is a relevant predictor of ASD symptom severity in adolescence. Test results on FR in children with ASD may have prognostic value regarding later symptom severity. Autism Res 2015. © 2015 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2015 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Autism Research 01/2015; DOI:10.1002/aur.1443 · 4.53 Impact Factor


Available from
Jun 5, 2014