Powering up the social skills of children with autism
Research conducted by Assistant Professor of Psychology Suzy Scherf and Dr. Elisabeth Whyte has been featured by the Big Ten Network.
To help children with autism better understand these social cues, Scherf and colleagues at Penn State developed a video game to teach them how to do things like read facial expressions and make eye contact. They came up with the idea while running trials of a program that involved “incredibly boring” training.
“We started employing some basic principles of gaming to try to enhance the motivation of the kids,” she said. “We built a narrative and we talked to them about chasing criminals, and we told them that they have to figure out who the criminal was going to be.”
From there, the team developed a more technologically sophisticated game. So far, they’ve seen great results, and much of the “proof” is in the smiles on the kids’ faces.