How the face applet is helping children with autism

One day early in 2001, after I had shown this work at a conference, I was approached by Dorothy Strickland, who works with an organization, dotolearn.com, that helps children with autism and their parents to build skills to help in dealing with an often incomprehensible world. She asked whether they could put the face applet up on their site,

Of course I said yes. Since then, it's been a great success. The letter below from one mother [name elided by me to respect her privacy] gives you an idea of how people are using it.

I encourage you to check out dotolearn's wonderful site for yourself.       - Ken Perlin


Dear do2learn:
   I want to thank you so much for your "Facial Expressions" program. 
About six months ago, I introduced it to my seven year old son who has
Aspergers/HFA and he loved it.  He had no trouble figuring out how to
manipulate the face (which, by the way, we think looks eerily like Ann
Curry from NBC News!) both with selected emotions and individual facial
features.  My son has a great deal of difficulty "reading" people's
nonverbal expressions, and this game seemed a perfect tool for him.  He
played with the game here and there for about a month and I wasn't sure
if he was getting anything out of it.  Then one day he came in and told
me about something unexpected that happened at school.  I asked if his
teacher was surprised.  He pondered a moment, then said, "Why yes!  She
was very surprised!  Her eyebrows went up and her mouth made into an
oh!"  CLICK!  That was the first time he related a facial expression
with an emotion!  I can't tell you how thrilled I was!
  He spent a lot of time with the game over the next few weeks, and now
he only plays with it occasionally.  I think that's because he no longer
needs it!  He can figure out for himself what people are saying with
their faces.
    Once again, thank you for this vitally useful tool.  It truly works
wonders!

Sincerely,
C. A.,
Michigan