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, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 105–120 | Cite as

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

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 therapy Longitudinal study Robotic assistant Imitation Social interaction 

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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

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