Start-Up Project on Innovative Social Interaction Training for People with Autism
Autism is classified as a pervasive developmental disorder whose symptoms often emerge in early childhood. People with autism cut themselves off from the outside world and often show little interest in social contact. They usually remain extremely isolated for most of their lives and therefore require a great deal of tolerance from those around them. As part of a new start-up project at RWTH Aachen University, JARA-BRAIN junior professor Dr. Martin Schulte-Rüther is investigating the effectiveness of innovative social interaction training in increasing the social competence of individuals with autism.
With the help of computer-aided feedback, the test subjects regularly practise how to react appropriately in social situations through non-verbal behavioural responses (e.g. eye contact and facial expressions). “Automatic ocular motility analysis and emotional recognition open up entirely new opportunities. A computerized training program can in fact be interactive and can take the patient’s emotional reactions into account directly. Moreover, it records improvement made over the course of training very accurately,” says Martin Schulte-Rüther, who conducts research on the diagnosis and treatment of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder at University Hospital Aachen’s Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics, and Psychotherapy.