Saturday, February 6, 2010

Free (and not-so-free), Online (and not-so-online) Games for Autism

Here are a couple of free online games for kids with autism to work on reading facial expressions. The first is The Feelings Game, a simple interactive game where you click on the face that's happy, disgusted, angry, etc.

The other one is just called Facial Expressions; this one is not so much a quiz game like The Feelings Game, but more for exploring different features of facial expressions. You can manipulate individual elements of a facial expression, such as the eyebrows, the shape of the mouth, etc. There are presets for standard expressions as well. I wish the graphics were a little more smooth, though. I've seen more realistic images on my cousin's VIC-20. Both games are from, a company that also has some pretty slick-looking software for special needs, but most of them fall in the not-so-free and not-so-online category. There's Faceland, for example to stick with the skill of reading facial expressions. Looks pretty fun, actually, but at that price tag ($179), I hope they have some proof that autistic children can generalize the learning from the software and apply it in real life.

Girl Face Matching Screen ShotNow back to my favourite price tag: free. Here's a downloadable game along the same theme, called Girl Face Matching. At least the graphics are not bad.

With all of these software choices, I would recommend regularly reinforcing the learning with actual humans' facial expressions after playing the computer game so that the connection with the real world is more likely to be made. Children with ASD are, after all, prone to have difficulty generalizing learning, especially the complexities of social behaviour.

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