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      Computer-based interventions to improve social and emotional skills in individuals with autism spectrum disorders: a systematic review.

      Developmental Neurorehabilitation

      methods, Behavior Therapy, Therapy, Computer-Assisted, Social Behavior, Humans, Emotions, therapy, psychology, Child Development Disorders, Pervasive, Child

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          To review studies involving the use of computer-based interventions (CBI) to improve the social and emotional skills (e.g. emotional recognition) of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The use of computer-based intervention (CBI) in the treatment of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may offer some advantages to traditional one-to-one or group instruction including easier differentiation of instruction, decreased distractions and the incorporation of an individual's relative visual learning strengths. However, the results of past research suggest varying outcomes for CBI with individuals with ASD. This review provides a systematic analysis of studies investigating CBI to improve social and emotional skills (e.g. emotion recognition) of individuals with ASD. Electronic database searches and ancestral searches were used to identify studies that met pre-determined inclusion criteria. The included studies were then summarized in terms of: (a) participant characteristics, (b) social and emotional skills targeted, (c) details of the CBI, (d) results, and (e) certainty of evidence. The results of these studies indicated that CBI's effect on social and emotional skills was mixed, with the majority of studies reporting unacceptable outcomes following intervention. Overall, this review suggests that the use of CBI to improve the social and emotional skills of individuals with ASD is a promising practice. A comparison of CBI plus tutoring and face-to-face social skills training suggests that CBI can be as effective as face-to-face instruction. Practitioners should carefully consider the preferences and existing abilities of individuals with ASD and the customizability of the software when deciding to use CBI and selecting a software program.

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