Effectiveness of a computer program in increasing social skills in children with autism spectrum disorder
Jessica Peters Myszak, Indiana University, United States
Indiana University . Awarded
The ability to understand theory of mind and understand the emotions of others has significant consequences for the social competency of individuals. As early as the preschool years, theory of mind ability has been associated with the capacity of children to engage in and sustain pretend play with peers. Individuals on the autism spectrum experience delays in theory of mind, and these delays have significant effects on their social development. A meta-analysis of social skills interventions that were conducted in schools for children with autism showed low to questionable treatment and generalization effects for social skills interventions with children on the autism spectrum. Dosage and intervention fidelity are two of the potential reasons for low intervention effects. Since computer programs can be used for unlimited amounts of time and present material consistently, an interactive computer program, Mind Reading, was used to teach individuals to recognize emotions through the use of video clips, photographs, voice recordings, lessons, and games involving individuals displaying a range of emotions. In this study, three children on the autism spectrum used Mind Reading for eight weeks, and their results were analyzed using a multiple baseline across subjects multiple probe design. Results were measured through pretest and posttest scores on the Social Skills Rating System for both parents and teachers and the Autism Social Skills Profile. Affective perspective-taking (APT) ability, emotion recognition, and the child’s social engagement were assessed across phases of the intervention through probes. Analysis of the results showed mixed outcomes for the children. More research should be conducted before this computer program is recommended for use on a large scale.
Myszak, J.P. Effectiveness of a computer program in increasing social skills in children with autism spectrum disorder. Ph.D. thesis, Indiana University.
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