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 126.96.36.199, 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.
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.
In a spring article in the UAB Magazine, Dr. Biasini talked about the benefits of computer based interventions like FaceSay, and the encouraging gains seen in the study.