Brief Report: A Pilot Summer Robotics Camp to Reduce Social Anxiety and Improve Social/Vocational Skills in Adolescents with ASD
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This pilot study evaluated a novel intervention designed to reduce social anxiety and improve social/vocational skills for adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The intervention utilized a shared interest in robotics among participants to facilitate natural social interaction between individuals with ASD and typically developing (TD) peers. Eight individuals with ASD and eight TD peers ages 12–17 participated in a weeklong robotics camp, during which they learned robotic facts, actively programmed an interactive robot, and learned “career” skills. The ASD group showed a significant decrease in social anxiety and both groups showed an increase in robotics knowledge, although neither group showed a significant increase in social skills. These initial findings suggest that this approach is promising and warrants further study.
KeywordsAutism spectrum disorder Intervention Treatment Robotics Vocational Social skills
The study was supported in part by the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, the Career Center, and the Glynn Family Honors program at the University of Notre Dame. We would like to thank Heidi Miller, B. S. W., for overseeing many crucial tasks involved in recruitment of participants and data entry. We would also like to thank the following research assistants who conscientiously carried out a wide range of tasks at various stages of the project: Tara Crown, Catherine Grace Connolly, Theresa Gorman, Kailey Kawalec, Whitney McWherter, Megan Sullivan, Haley Van Steenwyk, Michelle Won, and Julaine Zenk. We would like to thank the children and families who have contributed their time to this research.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest, and received no monetary compensation or had any affiliation with robotics companies as part of this study.
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