One of my working hypotheses is that using a touch screen provides a boost for the kids, particularly for the joint attention game, Amazing Gazing, where you point to where the person is looking. We haven't analyzed this formally, and there are other contributing factors, but we did see better results in the study that used a touch screen.
Buying a touch screen laptop or good tablet can run 400 to 500 dollars, so I was happy to stumble upon an HP touch screen laptop in the 300 dollar range. I was out on a "Dad, can you get me a compass for geometry class" errand :-) at OfficeMax, saw this laptop, got it and tested it with FaceSay. It runs well. The one I picked is only an 11" screen, so it's a little small, but not a bad trade-off for the price. If I get time over the holidays, I may tweak the screen layout of FaceSay - maybe offering an option to reduce the size of the bottom blue section and enlarge the main area - to make better use of the tablet style screen dimensions.
A google at OfficeMax for "touch screen laptop" this morning to confirm that the deal is still available turned up a handful of other deals, including one for under 300 from Dell. I haven't investigated any of these in any depth, and there may be better deals at Costco, etc. I just wanted to give a heads-up on encouraging price news. This could be a long term trend, since tablets are putting pressure on laptops, both in terms of pricing and user experience.
p.s. I don't own stock in or work for OfficeMax :-).
It seemed that one quarter, probably more, of the hundreds of studies presented at IMFAR this year touched on Social Attention and Social Skills and Behaviors. There were rows of posters on studies that measured Joint Attention, Emotion Recognition, Face Recognition, or more generally Face Processing and Visual Perception (browse the 700 page IMFAR Abstracts ), often in connection with measures of Social Interactions or Social Competence. It was very interesting and a great fit with FaceSay's focus on attention to the face and particularly the area around the eyes.
As part of the Technology Demo at IMFAR in May, I'll be presenting
I'll be demoing FaceSay and presenting the results from the 2007 FaceSay RCT at IMFAR 2010 in Philadelphia, as part of the Innovative Technologies Demo session, sponsored by Autism Speaks.
With FaceSay version 184.108.40.206, three fun ReacTickles are now included. After every 10 points, the students can choose which ReacTickle (formerly known as reactivecolours) to play. The ReacTickles are also installed as a free screen saver.
ReacTickles by Cardiff School of Art and Design is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
In an interesting 2008 study, Vivanti and Rogers ruled out both motor impairment and following the task as reasons why children with autism have difficulty in an imitation task. One finding that could be important is that the study participants with autism spent less time looking at the face. This leads to the interesting idea that learning to better read emotions, an important component of social interactions, might also improve imitation, which is another key component of social interactions:
We can now quantitatively test our hypothesis that FaceSay increases attention to the area around the eyes in interactions with other people! After months of pilot testing, Researchers at the University of Alabama, Birmingham recently placed an order for a an eye tracking system that is ideal for unobtrusively measuring where the study participant is looking when interacting with another person. Attention to the eyes - which does not necessarily equate to eye contact - is thought to be important for reading emotions and possibly imitation, both of which are key components of social interactions.
I will be presenting a technology demo/poster presentation at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Chicago in May. "FaceSay - Social Skills Games That Work" is scheduled for Friday, May 8, 2009, 9:00 AM
Undergraduate student Amy Schrembs and her supervisor, professor Rodney D. Clark, from Allegheny College will present a poster on her interesting multiple-baseline study of FaceSay , An Application of Computer-Based Training on Emotion Discrimination in Children with Autism: A Comparison to Non Computer-Based Training, at the ABA International conference in Phoenix, AZ, May 22-26th. Congratulations, Amy!
Simon Baron-Cohen's talented team announced results from a 20 student study of Transporter's, a neat DVD aimed at teaching kids emotions.
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