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Can systemising facilitate empathising? Enhancing emotion recognition in children with autism: an evaluation of the ‘Transporters’ intervention, implemented in an educational establishment

Lewis, Carole (2010) Can systemising facilitate empathising? Enhancing emotion recognition in children with autism: an evaluation of the ‘Transporters’ intervention, implemented in an educational establishment. Thames Valley University London.

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Abstract

AIMS: The current research aims to establish whether a purpose made, animated TV series with dynamic human faces (The ‘Transporters’, Golan et al., 2010) can enhance emotion recognition in children with autism. METHOD: Three groups of participants aged 7-11 years (autistic experimental n=9, autistic control n=8 and a typically developing (TD) control n=8) were given indirect assessments to establish their ability to define and recognise 16 emotions. The assessment used novel dynamic video clips. The autistic experimental group watched the ‘Transporters’ (Golan et al., 2010) at an educational establishment, 5 days a week for 4 weeks whilst both control groups received no intervention. The vocabulary definition and emotion recognition assessments were repeated using novel dynamic stimuli. Scores from time1 and time2 were analysed using a 3x2 mixed ANOVA. RESULTS: The interaction effect revealed significant improvement in vocabulary understanding for the autistic experimental group and the TD control group (F[2,22]=5.27 p<.05). The results also revealed a selective significant improvement in emotion recognition for the experimental group (F[2,22]=28.40 p<.001), which suggests that autistic children can be taught emotion recognition which reflects cognitive empathy and effectively generalise to novel human faces. Implications for future research are discussed.

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