Description: Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show significant deficits in communication, emotion recognition, perspective taking, and social skills. One intervention gaining increased attention is the use of computer assisted instruction (CAI) to teach social, emotional and perspective-taking skills to individuals with ASD with the purpose of improving theory of mind skills. This study evaluated the effectiveness of CAI for improving theory of mind skills in four children with high functioning autism ages 5 to 12 years. A single-subject multiple baseline research design across participants was utilized to evaluate the effectiveness of CAI. The software contained 22 instructional scenarios that asked participants to identify emotions of characters based on situational cues displayed in line drawn pictures and audio feedback for correct and incorrect responses. Mind-reading skills were assessed using ten randomly selected scenarios for various emotions and no audio feedback. Visual analysis of the data revealed that all four participants increased mind-reading skills during the CAI condition. Additionally, this study evaluated levels of task engagement during experimental conditions. Three of the four participants showed an increase in task engagement during CAI compared to paper-based social stories used during baseline. Generalization of skills was assessed through the use of social scenarios acted out by family members of participants. All four participants were able to correctly identify emotions displayed in generalization scenarios. Results demonstrated that CAI was an effective and socially viable method for improving ToM skills in children with autism and they could generalize their skills to untrained settings.
Date: December 2014
Creator: Eason, Lindsey R.