Another simulation has the child playing “tag” with online characters, using only the movement of the characters’ eyes to indicate who gets tagged next. In another game, “Bandaid Clinic,” a see-through bandage is placed over a part of a woman’s face to represent an injury. The child must select the onscreen image that matches the covered part of the face to “fix” the injury.
The software programs are tested on children with Asperger Syndrome and those with autism. After using FaceSay, both groups improved their ability to recognize emotions. The children with Asperger Syndrome also significantly improved their ability to read facial expressions. Children with autism had only some improvement in facial expression recognition. The results of the study were presented at the June 2007 meeting of the Association for Psychological Science.
One researcher says the improvements in facial and expression recognition carried over to social settings. Children began using more eye contact on the playground and were more likely to follow eye gazes. Parents reported similar benefits in social interaction at home.
One future goal is to teach children to go beyond recognition and develop ways to understand the emotions attached to facial expressions. FaceSay is currently available for license by schools, healthcare providers and clinics. A home edition is expected to be available later this year. Facial recognition software programs by other companies are also available or in development.
For information about the FaceSay™ program, log onto http://www.facesay.com . Another online program to promote facial recognition: So2Learn, http://www.do2learn.com/games/facialexpressions/face.htm