Mind Reader is an interactive book that lets children on the autism spectrum explore how emotions and thoughts can be conveyed through facial expressions. With the support of a parent or therapist, they pretend to “be a mind reader” by writing dialogue on dry-erasable pages. By labeling the expressions creatively in their own words, they can examine how emotions are involved in their own life.
The activity allows children to learn through play, which is relieving, as they may spend years learning about non-verbal communication under stressful circumstances. Rather than enforcing right or wrong answers, Mind Reader lets kids be creative while opening doors to conversations about about expressions and emotions with adults.
Each page is split so that the upper and lower halves of the face mix and match to create different expressions. The jumping off point for the photographs was a list of Action Units (AU) that categorize the expressions that humans can produce with various facial muscles.