Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) struggle with identifying others' emotions, which impacts their ability to successfully interact in social situations. Because of the increasing number of children identified with ASD, effective techniques are needed to help children identify emotions in others. The use of technology is being researched as a way to help children with emotion identification. However, technology is not always available for teachers to use in classrooms, whereas picture books are much easier to access and have been successfully used to improve students' social skills. Picture books are naturally used in classroom, home, and therapy settings. This study investigated the effectiveness of using picture books as a teaching tool with students with ASD, helping them learn how to identify emotions. A multiple baseline across three male subjects between the ages of six and ten was employed. Each picture book focused on teaching one specific emotion: scared, sad, and furious. Following intervention, when shown novel photographs, two of the participants identified three target emotions. One participant successfully identified one target emotion and showed marked improvement in identifying the other two target emotions. Using picture books is an easy, inexpensive way to teach emotions and can be naturally included in a classroom. Parents and other professionals can use picture books in a home or therapy setting to help children with ASD learn emotions and improve their social understanding.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





autism, picture books, emotion recognition