Emotion recognition from body movement and gesture in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder is improved by situational cues

Dale Metcalfe*, Karen McKenzie, Kris McCarty, Thomas Pollet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background: Research shows people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have poorer emotion recognition (ER) compared to their typically developing (TD) peers. However, it is not known whether this is the case when stimuli are limited to gesture and posture, and lack facial expressions.

Method: Fifty-four children with (n = 27) and without (n = 27) ASD, matched on age and gender, completed an ER task, that used dynamic stimuli. Processing style bias, Autistic-like-traits and empathy were also measured. With ER as the outcome variable, a multilevel logistic model was created.

Results: Children with ASD were found to be significantly less accurate in identifying emotions, compared to the control group. Presence of situational cues aided both groups. Autistic-like-traits and empathy were found to correlate too highly with the diagnosed condition to use in the multilevel model. Processing style did not significantly impact ER ability.

Conclusions: This study supports previous research which finds ER ability in people with ASD to be poorer than that of TD peers and that situational cues can aid ER ability. Importantly, the latter is true for people with ASD. The implication of these findings are programmes that aim to improve ER should consider using cues. Limitations of the study are discussed.

What this paper adds?
Background
Research shows people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have poorer emotion recognition (ER) compared to their typically developing (TD) peers. However, it is not known whether this is the case when stimuli are limited to gesture and posture, and lack facial expressions.

Method
Fifty-four children with (n = 27) and without (n = 27) ASD, matched on age and gender, completed an ER task, that used dynamic stimuli. Processing style bias, Autistic-like-traits and empathy were also measured. With ER as the outcome variable, a multilevel logistic model was created.

Results
Children with ASD were found to be significantly less accurate in identifying emotions, compared to the control group. Presence of situational cues aided both groups. Autistic-like-traits and empathy were found to correlate too highly with the diagnosed condition to use in the multilevel model. Processing style did not significantly impact ER ability.

Conclusions
This study supports previous research which finds ER ability in people with ASD to be poorer than that of TD peers and that situational cues can aid ER ability. Importantly, the latter is true for people with ASD. The implication of these findings are programmes that aim to improve ER should consider using cues. Limitations of the study are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Volume86
Early online date28 Jan 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019

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