Universal Access in the Information Society

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 105–120

Robotic assistants in therapy and education of children with autism: can a small humanoid robot help encourage social interaction skills?

  • B. Robins
  • K. Dautenhahn
  • R. Te Boekhorst
  • A. Billard
Long paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10209-005-0116-3

Cite this article as:
Robins, B., Dautenhahn, K., Boekhorst, R.T. et al. Univ Access Inf Soc (2005) 4: 105. doi:10.1007/s10209-005-0116-3

Abstract

This article presents a longitudinal study with four children with autism, who were exposed to a humanoid robot over a period of several months. The longitudinal approach allowed the children time to explore the space of robot–human, as well as human–human interaction. Based on the video material documenting the interactions, a quantitative and qualitative analysis was conducted. The quantitative analysis showed an increase in duration of pre-defined behaviours towards the later trials. A qualitative analysis of the video data, observing the children’s activities in their interactional context, revealed further aspects of social interaction skills (imitation, turn-taking and role-switch) and communicative competence that the children showed. The results clearly demonstrate the need for, and benefits of, long-term studies in order to reveal the full potential of robots in the therapy and education of children with autism.

Keywords

Autism therapyLongitudinal studyRobotic assistantImitationSocial interaction

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Robins
    • 1
  • K. Dautenhahn
    • 1
  • R. Te Boekhorst
    • 1
  • A. Billard
    • 2
  1. 1.Adaptive Systems Research Group, School of Computer ScienceThe University of HertfordshireHertfordshireUK
  2. 2.EPFLLausanneSwitzerland