Teaching Children About Emotions and Friend Using a Computer Program
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a computer program in conjunction with instruction from the researcher, in helping individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders improve their emotional and social skills. In an A-B- A with replication across participants design, three participants used the program for 20 minutes a day for 15-18 sessions in a school setting, across six weeks. The researcher provided one on one support to participants while they used the program. The participants were aged 10 to 12 and had previously been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism. Participant’s progress was measured by conducting pre-and post intervention interviews with parents and teachers of participants, and the participants themselves. Data was also collected while the participant used the computer program and from the diary entries completed each session. Naturalistic observations were conducted to determine if any effects of the program were generalized. The results demonstrated that participant’s emotion recognition improved as shown by an increase in emotion scenarios completed in the computer program. In addition emotion expression skills improved as demonstrated by content of participant’s diary entries. An improvement in social skills was also shown by participants becoming more engaged in group activities, physical education and making friends. The results show preliminary evidence for the program, in conjunction with individualized support, being a promising treatment method to teach emotion recognition and social skills. It is unclear how much of an effect the support of the researcher and the diary component, had on participants progress. Future research should focus on making outcomes more consistent and widely generalized. Implications for research, practice and program development are discussed.