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App to help children with autism spectrum disorder to recognize emotions

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Posted February 12, 2016

Children on autism spectrum disorder have a hard time recognizing emotions of others. Inevitably this does get in a way of creating and maintaining social relations, communicating with family members and so on. Learning to recognize emotions in early age would help solving a variety of problems in the future, which is why innovative methods are needed. Scientists the University of Victoria have created a smart app to help with this learning process.

Children with autism struggle to recognize human emotions based on facial expressions. Let’s Face It 2.0 is a scrapbook app which should help them train themselves to recognize and interpret facial expressions. Image credit: Erachima via Wikimedia, CC-BY-SA-3.0

Children with autism struggle to recognize human emotions based on facial expressions. Let’s Face It 2.0 is a scrapbook app which should help them train themselves to recognize and interpret facial expressions. Image credit: Erachima via Wikimedia, CC-BY-SA-3.0

The app, called Let’s Face It 2.0, is said to be a powerful educational tool for learning faces and recognizing emotions of the important people in the lives of children on the autism spectrum. Essentially it is a simple scrapbook application, available for free on iTunes. It allows children suffering from autism spectrum disorder to create an interactive album of faces and names. There are also science-based games integrated into the app, which help training facial recognition through interactive play. However, although creators of the app meant it specifically to be used by autistic children, it has other uses as well.

Scientists say it can be used by teachers to learn the names of their students. People from different fields that involve working with visual images could benefit from it too. The app works on three major domains: first, looking at faces and understanding their structure; second – recognizing facial identity and expression; third – interpreting the meaning of facial expressions.

As it was said before, other images could be used too, since it is essentially just a scrapbook app. Professor Jim Tanaka, one of the people working behind the Let’s Face It 2.0, said: “It is a selfie culture and I hope our app will be adopted by anyone who finds it useful. Parents and educators can create their own storybook from people and objects in their children’s lives”.

Smart apps are becoming a useful tool for many areas in our lives. If such a simple and free tool can help autistic children with social relations, such efforts have to be celebrated. We can only imagine what other uses for our smart devices will be available in the future.

Source: uvic.ca

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