Valentine’s Day is all about emotions, which creates a natural opportunity for discussing and learning about emotional empathy. Scroll down for this week’s VTip on autism, with insights and lesson examples for teaching emotions.
What’s the Challenge?
As I scanned through pictures of Olympic athletes (a treasure trove of emoting), I realized that while I knew that this grimace was of overwhelming happiness, while that one was overwhelming sorrow—I had absolutely no idea of how I recognized the difference. It was an enlightening moment. Although I had understood on an intellectual level that emotion recognition and awareness were difficult to teach, it wasn’t until I tried to create lessons for it that I got some insight as to how incredibly difficult it must be for a person without that innate ability to have to “learn” how to read emotion.
Why Is it Important?
Being able to recognize emotions—understanding the facial and body language that make us aware of what somebody else is feeling–is key to understanding and communicating with others effectively. Most people with autism have to be made aware of the emotional subtext around them, and have to be specifically taught to recognize the subtle (and even not-so-subtle) cues that clue us in to what others are feeling. It is a daunting task (for both the student and the teacher).
How to Meet the Challenge
The old saw that a picture is worth a thousand words is in this case an understatement. Only by seeing many, many examples, learning what emotions are attached to each, and having them filed away for mental comparison can somebody even begin to “learn” to read emotion. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million.
Check out how some VizZle lesson creators have tackled the challenge, from the very basic (happy vs. sad) to the more subtle and broader ranges of human emotion.