Research ArticleHUMAN-ROBOT INTERACTION

Improving social skills in children with ASD using a long-term, in-home social robot

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Science Robotics  22 Aug 2018:
Vol. 3, Issue 21, eaat7544
DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aat7544

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Abstract

Social robots can offer tremendous possibilities for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) interventions. To date, most studies with this population have used short, isolated encounters in controlled laboratory settings. Our study focused on a 1-month, home-based intervention for increasing social communication skills of 12 children with ASD between 6 and 12 years old using an autonomous social robot. The children engaged in a triadic interaction with a caregiver and the robot for 30 min every day to complete activities on emotional storytelling, perspective-taking, and sequencing. The robot encouraged engagement, adapted the difficulty of the activities to the child’s past performance, and modeled positive social skills. The system maintained engagement over the 1-month deployment, and children showed improvement on joint attention skills with adults when not in the presence of the robot. These results were also consistent with caregiver questionnaires. Caregivers reported less prompting over time and overall increased communication.

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