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Put On A Happy Face

Posted Feb 16 2011 5:27pm

Emotion recognition is a common social deficit experienced by people with autism (see this post where I cry and Alex thinks he’s done something wrong).

I’ve explored something today and you are the recipient of my research. I want to take a minute and explain very clearly what I’ve learned in real life and in the article I found. In summary here’s the scoopie:

#1. The social/emotional difference between a kid with autism and a kid without autism is that HE CAN’T READ your face. Not that he can’t recognize or feel emotion.

#2. They have just as much capability as anyone to know what it means to be mad, sad, proud, etc.

#3. People with autism can learn to recognize facial expressions. They also learn to GIVE facial expressions. (What,  you think the word “cheeeeese” was invented for nothing?)

MOST IMPORTANTLY: They have just as much capability as anyone to FEEL emotions.

So help a kid with autism if you can. Point to your smile and say, “I’m sooo happy to see you!”

Here’s my research. I highlighted the words that stuck out for me.

“An experiment is described that tests whether people with autism understand some causes of 2 basic emotions (happiness and sadness). The causes of emotion tested were situations, desires, and beliefs. Results showed that, relative to normal and mentally handicapped subjects of an equivalent mental age, people with autism alone showed severe deficits in comprehension of emotion caused by beliefs. Their understanding of emotion caused by situations and desires was no different than the nonautistic mentally handicapped group. Thus, difficulties in understanding emotion by people with autism are most apparent when emotion interacts with false belief.”

Volume 62, Issue 2, pages 385–395, April 1991

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