Posted in Robots, Robots & Autism (Children)

Children and Autism (Robots) Part 3

  • In addition, the robot “imitated” child’s behaviours, leading the child to share a social smile with a caregiver.
  • These relatively simple social gestures can be quite challenging to evoke in young children with ASD, and the potential value of simple robots like Keepon deserve additional experimental work in clinical populations.
  • More rigorously controlled lab-based research also supports the hypothesis that SARs are helpful tools for engaging children with ASD.
  • In a recent lab-based study, children with ASDs engaged in three different tasks. In the paradigm, the target child and a study confederate were seated at a table together. While they’re both seated, the child participated in 3 activities that involved building or working with blocks: a robot partner condition (where the child and robot completed the task together), an adult partner condition (where the child and another non-confederate adult complete the task together), and a computerized block activity.
  • The adult and robot interactions were designed to elicit several social behaviours from the children, including taking turns with the interaction partner and identifying the interaction partner’s emotions and preferences.
  • Pleo was used as the robot partner.
  • Children spoke more overall during the robot interactions than they did during either the interaction with the adult partner or during the computer task.
  • Children directed more speech toward the study confederate during the robot interaction than in the other two conditions.
  • While value exists in exploring and understanding human-robot metrics, using SAR to facilitate meaningful interpersonal interactions and social engagement with other people is a vital part of SAR research.
  • An important goal of SAR research is understanding how interactions with robots and skills learned or rehearsed with a SAR system can be translated into real-world situations and in interactions with other people.
  • The greatest value in these systems may be understanding benefits from interactions with SAR after the robot is no longer physically present.



Rabbitt, S. M., Kazdin, A. E., & Scassellati, B. (2015). Integrating socially assistive robotics into mental healthcare interventions: Applications and recommendations for expanded use. Clinical Psychology Review, 35, 35–46.


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