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Helping autistic children to recognise emotions

June 6, 2009

 

I saw an interesting article on CNN about a method to help autistic children recognise emotions that has had some success.  Significantly it involves using cartoon drawings of non-human characters. Why should this approach be as effective as it is? Is it because the cartoon emotions are simplified and exagerated; or does the non-human nature of the characters also contribute?

Thomas the Tank Engine, whose television adventures on the fictional island of Sodor have delighted children around the world for years, is now on a real-life mission to help kids with autism.

Thomas the Tank Engine is part of a new online game to help  autistic children recognize different emotions.  

Thomas the Tank Engine is part of a new online game to help autistic children recognize different emotions.

The steam locomotive and his friends are the stars of a new game in Australia, designed to help autistic children recognize emotions.

Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect), a nonprofit that provides services to people diagnosed with the developmental disorder, unveiled the game on its Web site Tuesday.

The game asks players to recognize which engine has a sad face, or which is happy or angry.

Children with autism often have a difficult time distinguishing different facial expressions.

Each time a child plays the game, he/she is presented with a different sequence of emotions. In doing so, the game takes advantage of the single-mindedness of autistic children to assist in their development.

“It’s a great way to help develop social and communication skills,” said Anthony Warren of Aspect.

via CNN

 

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