Unique effects of The transporters animated series and of parental support on emotion recognition skills of children with ASD: Results of a randomized controlled trial

Tali Gev, Ruthie Rosenan, Ofer Golan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Emotion recognition (ER) and understanding deficits are characteristic of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The Transporters (TT) animated series has shown promising results in teaching children with ASD to recognize emotions, with mixed findings about generalization and maintenance of effects. This study aimed to evaluate the unique role of TT and of parental support in the acquisition, generalization, and maintenance of acquired ER skills in children with ASD. 77 Israeli children with high functioning ASD, aged 4–7 were randomly assigned into four groups according to a 2 × 2 design of the factors Series (TT, control series) and Parental Support (with/without). Thirty typically developing children, matched to the ASD groups on mental age, were tested with no intervention. Participants' ER (on three generalization levels) and emotional vocabulary (EV) were tested pre and post 8 weeks of intervention, and at 3 months' follow-up. Compared to the control series, watching TT significantly improved children's ER skills at all generalization levels, with good skill maintenance. All groups improved equally on EV. The amount of parental support given, in the groups that had received it, contributed to the generalization and maintenance of ER skills. Autism severity negatively correlated with ER improvement. The current study provides evidence to the unique role of TT in ER skill acquisition, generalization, and maintenance in children with high functioning ASD. In addition, this study provides evidence for a successful cultural adaptation of TT to a non-English speaking culture. Autism Res 2017, 10: 993–1003.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)993-1003
Number of pages11
JournalAutism Research
Volume10
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Funding

We are grateful to the Autism Research Trust, and to Professor Jon Drori, for granting the rights to the Hebrew translation of The Transporters, to The Bar-Ilan University Multimedia Unit, and to Mr. Tuvia Tzafir and Litvin Representation and Management for their contribution to the production of the Hebrew version, and to Yes satellite services for providing the episodes of the control series. Thanks to the Association for Children at Risk, especially to Dr Irit Mor-Snir, for support in participant recruitment, and to Hila Avital, Ayelet Buchnik, Shira Porat, Moran Melamed, Aviv Diamant, and Michal Landa for assisting with data collection and analysis. Finally, we are grateful to the children who participated in the study and to their families. This Study was funded by the Israel Science Foundation, Grant no. 1193/10. The authors declare no conflict of interest.

FundersFunder number
Association for Children
Autism Research Trust
Israel Science Foundation1193/10

    Keywords

    • autism spectrum disorder
    • emotion recognition
    • parental support
    • randomized controlled trial
    • technological intervention

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