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From the small screen to the big world: mobile apps for teaching real-world face recognition to children with autism

Authors Sung A, Bai A, Bowen J, Xu B, Bartlett L, Sanchez J, Chin M, Poirier L, Blinkhorn M, Campbell A, Tanaka J

Received 23 April 2015

Accepted for publication 19 August 2015

Published 23 October 2015 Volume 2015:1 Pages 37—45

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/AHCT.S64483

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Utkan Demirci


AN Sung, A Bai, JG Bowen, B Xu, LM Bartlett, JC Sanchez, MD Chin, LJ Poirier, MR Blinkhorn, AC Campbell, JW Tanaka

Centre for Autism, Research, Technology and Education (CARTE), Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada

Abstract: In their everyday situations, individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) encounter problems perceiving and understanding the facial expressions of others. If people with ASD have difficulties interpreting facial emotions, it is not surprising that they would struggle in their daily social interactions. An important question is whether facial emotion skills can be learned through systematic instruction and training. The accessibility, portability, and engagement of mobile devices (ie, smartphones, tablets) afford exciting new opportunities for creating innovative apps in emotional face training. In this article, we review the current crop of facial emotion apps for autism. We evaluate the apps according to the following criteria: face-processing skills, social attributes, and usability. We discuss the key ingredients of face-processing apps that will help a person on the autism spectrum make the transition from the small screen of the mobile device to the big world of real life.

Keywords: mobile apps, emotion, facial expression, development, social skills, gamification

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