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Title: The use of a new computer-based intervention to aid facial emotion recognition in children with high functioning autism
Author: Lawrence, Louise
Awarding Body: University of Bolton
Current Institution: University of Bolton
Date of Award: 2016
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Children with Autistic Spectrum Conditions (ASC) experience difficulties in critical areas of social communication and facial emotion recognition (FER) deficits are argued to underlie these social impairments. Currently available interventions to teach FER to ASC children see gains that are often limited to improved recognition of emotions from taught stimuli only (faces used in the interventions). These interventions fail to resolve the problem of enabling distant generalisation (the transference of acquired skills to real life situations) in ASC. This thesis enabled the design and evaluation of an innovative serious game, Emotiquest, to improve the basic FER abilities of young ASC children. Emotiquest uniquely capitalises on three known preferences and strengths of people with ASCs (i.e., the synthetic (cartoon) face advantage, hyper-discrimination ability and hyper-systemising cognitive style) in order to remove a potential barrier to learning (training solely with human faces) and apply a potential facilitator to learning by incorporating discrimination and categorisation training strategies. The pre-post intervention evaluation study investigated the effect of using Emotiquest for 12 weeks by comparing the FER scores of ASC children who played the game with ASC children who did not. Results demonstrated improved FER for children who played the game compared to the ASC control group. Furthermore, generalisation of acquired FER skills to faces not included in the game was evident. Results suggest that the combination of discrimination training strategies and a tri-stimulus approach (training with synthetic and human faces) via a serious game, collectively improves FER in ASC children. The study’s limitations are discussed along with suggestions for future work.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available