Many parents worry about how video and computer games will influence their children, but a new computer game may be exactly the prescription some children need.
Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have come up with a computer game called "Facesay", that they say can help kids with autism recognize facial expressions.
Dr. Maria Hopkins, Ph.D., of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, says, "We found that children with autism, in particular, really had difficulties recognizing emotions. And in particularly, they tended to look at the lower part of the face than the upper part of the face."
Dr. Fred Biasini, Ph.D., also of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, adds that, "There are a number of questions that we're trying to address. One of the questions is: do they, can we get them to look at the eyes and then become more global lookers at the face instead of just focusing on the lower half of the face. The other question is how much do they actually know or understand about the concepts of the expressions."
Researchers say that after Facesay, autistic children seem to interact more on the playground and parents say that they are seeing improvement at home as well. Studies continue, but Facesay is already available to schools and a home version is due out soon.
For more information on facial recognition technology, please visit these sites:
For general autism information:
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry www.aacap.org
Autism Society of America www.autism-society.org
Autism Speaks www.autismspeaks.org
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism
National Institute of Mental Health www.nimh.nih.gov
National institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke www.ninds.nih.gov