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  • 1.
    Albrecht, Matthew A.
    et al.
    School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia.
    Foster, Jonathan K.
    School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia.
    Joosten, Annette
    School of Occupational Therapy & Social Work, CHIRI, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia.
    Falkmer, Marita
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, CHILD.
    Tang, Julia
    School of Occupational Therapy & Social Work, CHIRI, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia.
    Leung, Denise
    School of Occupational Therapy & Social Work, CHIRI, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia.
    Ordqvist, Anna
    School of Occupational Therapy & Social Work, CHIRI, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia.
    Falkmer, Torbjörn
    Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ. CHILD.
    Visual search strategies during facial recognition in children with ASD2014In: Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, ISSN 1750-9467, E-ISSN 1878-0237, Vol. 8, no 5, p. 559-569Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Facial recognition is a complex skill necessary for successful human interpersonal and social interactions. Given that the most prevalent disorder of social interaction is autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a number of studies have investigated and found impaired facial recognition abilities in people with ASD. Further, this impairment may be critically involved in mediating the deficits in interpersonal and social interactions in people with ASD. We sought to address the question of whether face processing is impaired in children with ASD in the current study. While there were a number of differences in visual search behaviours between the 19 children with ASD and the 15 controls, this did not manifest in deficits in facial recognition accuracy. In addition, there were notable differences with respect to eye fixation behaviours and recognition accuracy in this study compared to the findings in a previous similar study conducted in adults with ASD. These differences suggest a performance enhancing developmental trajectory in facial processing in controls that may not be present in individuals with ASD.

  • 2.
    Black, Melissa H.
    et al.
    School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
    Vaz, Sharmila
    School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
    Parsons, Richard
    School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
    Falkmer, Torbjörn
    Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ. CHILD. School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
    Tang, Julia S. Y.
    School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
    Morris, Susan
    School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
    Lee, Hoe
    Falkmer, Marita
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, CHILD. School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
    Disembedding performance and eye gaze behavior of adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder2019In: Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, ISSN 1750-9467, E-ISSN 1878-0237, Vol. 66, article id 101417Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Background: Atypical visual perception in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) may contribute to superiority in disembedding tasks. Gaze behavior has provided some insights in to mechanisms underlying this purported superiority in children, however evidence is limited and requires additional investigation.

    Method: The performance and gaze behavior of 27 adolescents with ASD and 27 matched typically developing (TD) peers were examined during the Figure Ground Subtest of the Test of Visual Perception Skills-third edition (TVPS-3).

    Results: Compared to their TD counterparts, adolescents with ASD were no different in accuracy, however, had a longer response time. Differences in gaze behavior were also observed, characterized by adolescents with ASD spending less time viewing the incorrect and target figures, and spending a greater proportion of time viewing irrelevant areas of the stimuli compared to TD adolescents.

    Conclusions: Results suggest that while altered visual perception was observed, this did not contribute to superiority in disembedding tasks in adolescents with ASD. Future research is required to elucidate conditions under which altered visual perception may contribute to behavioral superiority. 

  • 3.
    Falkmer, Marita
    et al.
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, CHILD.
    Bjällmark, Anna
    Department of Medical Engineering, School of Technology and Health, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden.
    Larsson, Mathilda
    Department of Medical Engineering, School of Technology and Health, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden.
    Falkmer, Torbjörn
    Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ. CHILD.
    The influences of static and interactive dynamic facial stimuli on visual strategies in persons with Asperger syndrome2011In: Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, ISSN 1750-9467, E-ISSN 1878-0237, Vol. 5, no 2, p. 935-940Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Several studies, using eye tracking methodology, suggest that different visual strategies in persons with autism spectrum conditions, compared with controls, are applied when viewing facial stimuli. Most eye tracking studies are, however, made in laboratory settings with either static (photos) or non-interactive dynamic stimuli, such as video clips. Whether or not these results are transferable to a “real world” dialogue situation remains unclear. In order to examine the consistency of visual strategies across conditions, a comparison of two static conditions and an interactive dynamic “real world” condition, in 15 adults with Asperger syndrome and 15 matched controls, was made using an eye tracker. The static stimuli consisted of colour photos of faces, while a dialogue between the participants and the test leader created the interactive dynamic condition. A within-group comparison showed that people with AS, and their matched controls, displayed a high degree of stability in visual strategies when viewing faces, regardless of the facial stimuli being static or real, as in the interactive dynamic condition. The consistency in visual strategies within the participants suggests that results from studies with static facial stimuli provide important information on individual visual strategies that may be generalized to “real world” situations.

  • 4.
    Falkmer, Marita
    et al.
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, CHILD.
    Bjällmark, Anna
    KTH, Medicinsk bildteknik.
    Larsson, Matilda
    Falkmer, Torbjörn
    Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ. CHILD. Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ, Dep. of Rehabilitation.
    Recognition of facially expressed emotions and visual search strategies in adults with Asperger syndrome2011In: Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, ISSN 1750-9467, E-ISSN 1878-0237, Vol. 5, no 1, p. 210-217Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Can the disadvantages persons with Asperger syndrome frequently experience with reading facially expressed emotions be attributed to a different visual perception, affecting their scanning patterns? Visual search strategies, particularly regarding the importance of information from the eye area, and the ability to recognise facially expressed emotions were compared between 24 adults with Asperger syndrome and their matched controls. While wearing a head mounted eye tracker, the participants viewed 12 pairs of photos of faces. The first photo in each pair was cut up into puzzle pieces. Six of the 12 puzzle pieced photos had the eyes bisected. The second photo showed a happy, an angry and a surprised face of the same person as in the puzzle pieced photo. Differences in visual search strategies between the groups were established. Adults with Asperger syndrome had greater difficulties recognizing these basic emotions than controls. The distortion of the eye area affected the ability to identify emotions even more negatively for participants with Asperger syndrome.

  • 5.
    Falkmer, Marita
    et al.
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, CHILD.
    Larsson, M
    Bjällmark, Anna
    Department of Medical Engineering, School of Technology and Health, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden.
    Falkmer, Torjörn
    Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ. CHILD. Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ, Dep. of Rehabilitation.
    The importance of the eye area in face identification abilities and visual search strategies in persons with Asperger syndrome2010In: Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, ISSN 1750-9467, E-ISSN 1878-0237, Vol. 4, no 4, p. 724-730Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Partly claimed to explain social difficulties observed in people with Asperger syndrome, face identification and visual search strategies become important. Previous research findings are, however, disparate. In order to explore face identification abilities and visual search strategies, with special focus on the importance of the eye area, 24 adults with Asperger syndrome and matched controls viewed puzzle pieced photos of faces, in order to identify them as one of three intact photos of persons. Every second puzzle pieced photo had the eyes distorted. Fixation patterns were measured by an eye tracker. Adults with Asperger syndrome had greater difficulties in identifying faces than controls. However, the entire face identification superiority in controls was found in the condition when the eyes were distorted supporting that adults with Aspergers syndrome do use the eye region to a great extent in face identification. The visual search strategies in controls were more effective and relied on the use of the ‘face information triangle’, i.e. the two eyes and the mouth, while adults with Asperger syndrome had more fixations on other parts of the face, both when obtaining information and during the identification part, suggesting a less effective use of the ‘face information triangle’.

  • 6.
    Horlin, Chiara
    et al.
    School of Occupational Therapy & Social Work, CHIRI, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia.
    Albrecht, Matthew A.
    School of Psychology & Speech Pathology, CHIRI, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia.
    Falkmer, Marita
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, CHILD.
    Leung, Denise
    School of Occupational Therapy & Social Work, CHIRI, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia.
    Ordqvist, Anna
    Rehabilitation Medicine, Department of Medicine and Health Sciences (IMH), Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University & Pain and Rehabilitation Centre, SE-581 85 Linköping, Sweden.
    Tan, Tele
    Department of Mechanical Engineering, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia.
    Lee, Wee Lih
    Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia.
    Falkmer, Torbjörn
    Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ. CHILD.
    Visual search strategies of children with and without autism spectrum disorders during an embedded figures task2014In: Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, ISSN 1750-9467, E-ISSN 1878-0237, Vol. 8, no 5, p. 463-471Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Individuals with ASD often demonstrate superior performance on embedded figures tasks (EFTs). We investigated visual scanning behaviour in children with ASD during an EFT in an attempt replicating a previous study examining differences in visual search behaviour. Twenty-three children with, and 31 children without an ASD were shown 16 items from the Figure-Ground subtest of the TVPS-3 while wearing an eye tracker. Children with ASD exhibited fewer fixations, and less time per fixation, on the target figure. Accuracy was similar between the two groups. There were no other noteworthy differences between children with and without ASD. Differences in visual scanning patterns in the presence of typical behavioural performance suggest that any purported differences in processing style may not be detrimental to cognitive performance and further refinement of the current methodology may lead to support for a purported advantageous cognitive style.

  • 7.
    Leung, Denise
    et al.
    School of Occupational Therapy & Social Work, Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia.
    Ordqvist, Anna
    Rehabilitation Medicine, Department of Medicine and Health Sciences (IMH), Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University & Pain and Rehabilitation Centre, UHL, County Council, Linköping, Sweden.
    Falkmer, Torbjörn
    Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ, Dep. of Rehabilitation. Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ. CHILD. School of Occupational Therapy & Social Work, Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia.
    Parsons, Rickard
    School of Occupational Therapy & Social Work, Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia.
    Falkmer, Marita
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, CHILD.
    Facial emotion recognition and visual search strategies of children with high functioning autism and Asperger syndrome2013In: Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, ISSN 1750-9467, E-ISSN 1878-0237, Vol. 7, no 7, p. 833-844Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Adults with high functioning autism (HFA) and Asperger syndrome (AS) are often less able to identify facially expressed emotions than their matched controls. However, results regarding emotion recognition abilities in children with HFA/AS remain equivocal. Emotion recognition ability and visual search strategies of 26 children with HFA/AS and matched controls were compared. An eye tracker measured the number of fixations and fixation durations as participants were shown 12 pairs of slides, displaying photos of faces expressing anger, happiness or surprise. The first slide of each pair showed a face broken up into puzzle pieces. The eyes in half of the puzzle piece slides were bisected, while those in the remaining half were whole. Participants then identified which of three alternative faces was expressing the same emotion shown in the preceding puzzle piece slide. No differences between the participant groups were found for either emotion recognition ability or number of fixations. Both groups fixated more often on the eyes and performed better when the eyes were whole, suggesting that both children with HFA/AS and controls consider the eyes to be the most important source of information during emotion recognition. Fixation durations were longer in the group with HFA/AS, which indicates that while children with HFA/AS may be able to accurately recognise emotions, they find the task more demanding.

  • 8.
    Murray, Nina
    et al.
    School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia.
    Hatfield, Megan
    School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia.
    Falkmer, Marita
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, CHILD. School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia.
    Falkmer, Torbjörn
    Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ. CHILD. Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ, Dep. of Rehabilitation. School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia.
    Evaluation of career planning tools for use with individuals with autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review2016In: Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, ISSN 1750-9467, E-ISSN 1878-0237, Vol. 23, p. 188-202Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This systematic review aimed to identify tools published in peer reviewed journals that could be utilised in career planning for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and to describe their clinical utility and psychometric properties. Due to limited results for ASD-specific tools, the search was broadened to career planning tools for individuals with a cognitive or developmental disability, which could be used by individuals with ASD. Six databases were electronically searched. Main search terms used were 'disability', 'young adult', 'assessment' and 'employment'. Boolean operators expanded the search strategy. Two independent reviewers undertook data extraction and quality assessment. Electronic searches located 2348 literature items; 14 articles met inclusion criteria covering 10 career planning tools. Identified tools were of a predictive nature; however, none of the studies assessed all the psychometric properties necessary for evaluating a sound predictive tool. Only one addressed all three components of clinical utility. None of the identified tools had strong reliability or validity and their clinical utility remains unexplored. 

  • 9.
    Sim, Angela
    et al.
    School of Occupational Therapy & Social Work, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
    Cordier, Reinie
    School of Occupational Therapy & Social Work, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
    Vaz, Sharmila
    School of Occupational Therapy & Social Work, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
    Falkmer, Torbjörn
    Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ. CHILD. Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ, Dep. of Rehabilitation. School of Occupational Therapy & Social Work, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
    Relationship satisfaction in couples raising a child with autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review of the literature2016In: Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, ISSN 1750-9467, E-ISSN 1878-0237, Vol. 31, p. 30-52Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Background Couples raising a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) face challenges that may impact on their relationship. The purpose of this review was to compare relationship satisfaction in couples raising children with and without ASD and to identify factors associated with satisfaction in couples with a child with ASD.

    Methods Thirteen databases were searched and studies were systematically screened against predetermined inclusion criteria. Twenty six articles, ranging from good to strong methodological quality, met the criteria for inclusion. Of these, seven were included in a meta-analysis comparing relationship satisfaction in couples raising a child with ASD with couples raising children without disabilities.

    Results The meta-analysis showed that couples raising a child with ASD were found to experience less relationship satisfaction than couples raising a child without a disability (Hedges's g = 0.41, p < 0.001); however, evidence from the narrative synthesis was mixed when compared with couples raising children with other disabilities. The most consistent evidence implicated challenging child behaviours, parental stress and poor psychological wellbeing as risk factors, and positive cognitive appraisal and social support as protective factors.

    Conclusion Findings demonstrate that couples raising a child with ASD would benefit from support to assist them in maintaining satisfaction in their relationship with their partner. However, further studies are needed to gain a greater understanding of the risk and protective factors and how these co-vary with relationship satisfaction over time. A theoretical framework has been developed to scaffold future research. 

  • 10.
    Sim, Angela
    et al.
    School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
    Fristedt, Sofi
    Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ, Dep. of Rehabilitation. Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ. ARN-J (Aging Research Network - Jönköping). Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ. IMPROVE (Improvement, innovation, and leadership in health and welfare).
    Cordier, Reinie
    School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
    Vaz, Sharmila
    School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
    Kuzminski, Rebecca
    School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
    Falkmer, Torbjörn
    Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ, Dep. of Rehabilitation. Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ. CHILD. School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
    Viewpoints on what is important to maintain relationship satisfaction in couples raising a child with autism spectrum disorder2019In: Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, ISSN 1750-9467, E-ISSN 1878-0237, Vol. 65, p. 1-13Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Background Despite the challenges associated with raising a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), many couples maintain satisfying relationships. However, it is not clear which factors couples prioritise as most important to this positive adaptation. Methods This study used Q-methodology to explore the viewpoints on factors most important to maintaining relationship satisfaction from the perspective of those experiencing it. Data from 43 caregivers raising a child with ASD were analysed using by-person varimax rotation factor analysis. Results Two key viewpoints were identified: 1) Building effective communication through openness, honesty and conflict resolution, and 2) Building a strong partnership by sharing parenting responsibilities. Conclusion Couples should be supported to strengthen communication processes and work in partnership to raise their child with ASD through family-centred interventions aimed at promoting relationship satisfaction.

  • 11.
    Tang, Julia S. Y.
    et al.
    Curtin Autism Research Group, School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
    Chen, Nigel T. M.
    Curtin Autism Research Group, School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
    Falkmer, Marita
    Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, CHILD. Curtin Autism Research Group, School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
    Bӧlte, Sven
    Curtin Autism Research Group, School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
    Girdler, Sonya
    Curtin Autism Research Group, School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
    A systematic review and meta-analysis of social emotional computer based interventions for autistic individuals using the serious game framework2019In: Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, ISSN 1750-9467, E-ISSN 1878-0237, Vol. 66, article id 101412Article, review/survey (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Background and aim: Adopting the elements of the Serious Game framework has been hypothesised as a strategy to promote the efficacy of social emotional computer-based interventions (CBI) for autistic individuals. This systematic review aimed to review the application of Serious Game principles in current social emotional CBI targeting autistic individuals and evaluate the effect of these principles in remediating social emotional outcomes via meta-analysis.

    Methods: Database searches identified 34 studies evaluating social emotional CBI with 17 controlled efficacy studies included in meta-regressions analyses. Narrative synthesis summarised the attributes of each CBI based on the five Serious Game principles; motivating storyline, goal directed learning, rewards and feedback, increasing levels of difficulty and individualisation.

    Results: Based on the scores of the Serious Game assessment tool we developed, findings revealed on average a limited (45%) integration of Serious Game design principles in social emotional CBI for autistic individuals. Main findings from the meta-regressions of 17 controlled efficacy studies revealed a moderating effect of Serious Game design principles on the distant generalisation of social emotional skills and transferability of outcomes among autistic individuals. No significant moderating effects of Serious Game was found for close generalisation and maintenance outcomes.

    Conclusion: Overall, findings suggest that the Serious Game design framework has utility in guiding the development of social emotional CBI which improve the social emotional skills of autistic individuals. 

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