Autism – Learning Emotion with Video?

Autistic children with learning problems responded differently to emotion training video

(RxWiki News) Kids with autism often have trouble seeing emotions. They may have trouble knowing that a facial expression means a person is angry or happy.

A video, called Transporters, was made to help train children with autism about emotions and how to recognize them in other people.

A recent study found that the video did not help kids who had learning problems. Therapies to teach emotion may need to be tailored for a child’s specific needs.

"Ask your child’s psychiatrist about the best treatments."

Early research on the video showed it was helpful for children who had a high level of function and who did not have any intellectual difficulties.

A recent study, led by Beth Williams, a psychologist at Monash University in Australia, wanted to see if the video would be helpful for children with autism who also had intellectual difficulties.

Intellectual difficulties are problems with thinking, learning, and sometimes talking.

The researchers asked 55 children between the ages of 4 and 7 to watch one of two videos.

Half the kids watched Transporters for one month. The other half watched Thomas the Tank Engine.

They tested the children on their ability to recognize emotions at the end of the month and again three months later.

The researchers found that the kids with autism and intellectual difficulties did not show better emotion recognition after training with the video.

The kids had better recognition for anger at the end of the one month. They were not better at recognizing other types of emotion.

The effects did not last. At the three month follow-up, the children had lost all that they had learned by watching the video.

The researchers concluded that the video was not helpful for children with autism who also had intellectual difficulties.

Children with learning difficulties may need other types of help to learn to recognize emotion.
Transporters is available from Changing Media Development Ltd. It was developed with researchers at Cambridge University in the UK.

The videos are available for sale online with packages starting at $65.00.

This study was published August 7 in the Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry.  No conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
August 26, 2012