Social app helps children on the autism spectrum

Social Sciences

- Anne MacLaurin

The newly released Let’s Face It 2.0, a scrapbook app developed by the University of Victoria’s Centre for Autism Research Technology Education (CARTE) and now available free on iTunes, is a powerful educational tool for learning faces and recognizing emotions of the important people in the lives of children on the autism spectrum.

“It is a selfie culture and I hope our app will be adopted by anyone who finds it useful,” says CARTE director and UVic psychology professor Jim Tanaka. “Parents and educators can create their own storybook from people and objects in their children’s lives.”

"We wanted to figure out a way that we could develop an app that would help them recognize the people in their everyday lives their family, their schoolmates," said Tanaka in a recent interview with CBC All Points West.

The app for iPad allows children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to make an interactive album of faces and names. It also has unique science-based games that train facial recognition through interactive play. And it’s not just for children with ASD and their families. Teachers can use it to learn the names of their students and students can use it as an effective tool for studying biology, fine arts, psychology and virtually any subject that involves visual images.

"It was really inspired by just trying to figure out ways of developing a game that's going to be fun for the kids but also apply to their real world,” says Tanaka.

CARTE, launched at UVic in 2011, is dedicated to the research and development of breakthrough technologies and innovative computer interventions to enhance the social and emotional skills of those with ASD.

More information: Let’s Face it Scapbook

CBC interview on All Points West (Feb. 11, 2016)

UVic student research blog on working with CARTE

In this story

Keywords: children, autism, community, research, technology, psychology

People: Jim Tanaka

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