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Selected Development Project
Project Title

What thou see and hear? -- Eye-tracking assessment of social information processing in children with high functioning autism spectrum disorder

Principal Investigator Dr Tsang, Kwan Lan Vicky
Area of Research Project
Psychological Studies
Project Period
From 10/2013 To 03/2016
  1. To investigate and identify the difference in visual encoding between children with High-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders (HFASD) and their typically developing peers, in the aspects of visual attention characteristic, visual organization and visual memory
  2. To investigate and identify the difference in auditory encoding between children with HFASD and their typically developing peers in the aspects of auditory attention characteristic, auditory organization and auditory memory
  3. To investigate and identify the difference in simultaneous visual-auditory encoding between children with HFASD and their typically developing peers
  4. To investigate and identify the difference in cognitive processing of social information between children with HFASD and their typically developing peers, in the aspects of interpretation of the social situations and the problem-solving strategies involved
Methods Used
    1. A cross-sectional comparison study of the behavioral and eye-tracking data between children with and without HFASD in their responses to experimentally manipulated social stimuli
    1. 50 children with HFASD, and 50 typically developing children are to be recruited from primary schools P3-6 classes and from Project Aspire in HKIEd. caption: serving children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
    2. Each participant will undertake three tests in the eye-tracking assessment room: RaveníŽs Standard Progressive Matrices Test, Social Cognitive Processing Video Test and, Emotional discrimination faces and voices tests
    3. An analysis of variance (ANOVA) will be conducted using both groups (children with HFASD and TD) as the independent variables while the SIP variables of visual, auditory, and visual-auditory processing are the dependent variables, and age is the covariate.
Summary of Findings
Focii of Academic outputs through conference sharing or journal/book publications:
  • Development of valid and reliable assessment instruments to measure social information processing and social cognition
  • Knowledge of how typically developing primary school children perceive social situations
  • Knowledge of how primary school children with HFASD perceive social situations, via visual and auditory as well as integrated visual-auditory processing
  • Knowledge of how the two groups differ in their social cognitive processing
  • One of the major challenges faced by children with ASD is that their social and communication skills are largely compromised, thereby tremendously affecting their quality of life. However, the exact mechanism behind the ASD symptoms is still unknown. The knowledge generated from this study will contribute to the better understanding of the complex social cognitive deficits in children with ASD in the field of psychology.
  • Latest ASD intervention such as using “visual strategies” has been found useful suggesting that ASD children can better learn through visual processing. This study will inform us further whether this practice is valid and why. Ultimately this also may bring about a long-term impact on the advancement of evidence-based intervention outcomes for children with ASD in both the educational and clinical fields.
  • Conference presentation at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and publication in the proceeding of World Congress on Special Needs Education (WCSNE-2014) on 14th August 2014 on “A pilot investigation on the psychometric properties of Social cognitive processing schedule” (Chinese)
  • Tsang, V. & Chow, J. (Submitted). Using the video-based social information processing schedule to identify differences in empathic functioning between children with ASD and/or ADHD. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, under review.
Biography of Principal Investigator
Dr. Tsang Kwan Lan Vicky had been Lecturer and Assistant Professor in the Department of Early Childhood Education (ECE) at HKIEd from 2002 to 2010 before she joined the Centre for Advancement in Special Education (CASE) as the Centre Associate Director at the Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong in 2010. Before starting her teaching career, Dr. Tsang was a licensed occupational therapist both in USA and in Hong Kong. She had worked in different special schools and early intervention centers as occupational therapist, working closely with the multi-disciplinary school team for students with special needs. She received her advanced master’s degree in Occupational Therapy with specialization in Developmental Disabilities from New York University, USA. She earned her PhD from Deakin University, Australia in 2009. Dr. Tsang has joined the Department of Special Education and Counselling (SEC) since August 2012. She has a strong research interest in learning and teaching support for inclusive education, as well as development and validation of assessment instruments for students with special educational needs.
Funding Source

General Research Fund