International Journal of Social Robotics

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 593–618 | Cite as

Why Robots? A Survey on the Roles and Benefits of Social Robots in the Therapy of Children with Autism

  • John-John Cabibihan
  • Hifza Javed
  • Marcelo AngJr.
  • Sharifah Mariam Aljunied


This paper reviews the use of socially interactive robots to assist in the therapy of children with autism. The extent to which the robots were successful in helping the children in their social, emotional and communication deficits was investigated. Child–robot interactions were scrutinized with respect to the different target behaviors that are to be elicited from a child during therapy. These behaviors were thoroughly examined with respect to a child’s development needs. Most importantly, experimental data from the surveyed works were extracted and analysed in terms of the target behaviors and of how each robot was used during a therapy session to achieve these behaviors. The study concludes by categorizing the different therapeutic roles that these robots were observed to play, and highlights the important design features that enable them to achieve high levels of effectiveness in autism therapy.


Social robots Autism spectrum disorder Autism therapy Human–robot interaction Robot design 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • John-John Cabibihan
    • 1
  • Hifza Javed
    • 1
  • Marcelo AngJr.
    • 2
  • Sharifah Mariam Aljunied
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringNational University of SingaporeSingaporeRepublic of Singapore
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical EngineeringNational University of SingaporeSingaporeRepublic of Singapore
  3. 3.Education Services DivisionMinistry of EducationSingaporeRepublic of Singapore

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