Objectives: The present study investigated whether individuals with ASD demonstrated improvement in their face processing skills following the “Let’s Face It!” intervention.
Methods: Participants with ASD were randomly assigned to either an active treatment group (N=45) or a waitlist control group (N=39). Active treatment involved 20 hours of home-based intervention over a several month period, monitored by parents, and closely supervised by research staff. The outcome measure was the Victoria/Yale Face Processing Battery (VYFPB), which includes measures of face identity (including parts/whole and eye/mouth processing) and expression recognition.
Results: Separate analyses of variance for each of the 11 subtests of the VYFPB were conducted with treatment condition (active, waitlist) and time point (pre-, post-) as independent variables, and total test score as the dependent measure. One subtest, Part-Whole Identity, demonstrated a significant interaction (with Bonferroni adjustment) between treatment condition and time point (p=.002), such that the active treatment group improved to a significantly greater degree than did the waitlist control group. This result held for eye, mouth, and part conditions, and was nearly significant for whole conditions.
Conclusions: “Let’s Face It!” shows promise as an intervention to improve face processing skills in individuals with ASD. This was a fairly low intensity intervention (20 hours total); these results therefore serve as a proof of principle, suggesting that a more intensive intervention might yield more widespread gains. In addition, further research is needed to explore the generalizability of these improvements.