Development of a Robot-Based Environment for Training Children with Autism
This study is done as a part of design-research processes that aims to co-create technology supported robot centered therapy environment for autistic children. We attempt to evaluate to which extent the therapists who perform behavioral training of children with autism can be supported by robot technology in the process of therapy content creation and training. First, we feature a robot-centered environment that is technically designed to decrease the complexity of programming dynamic, synchronous and parallel interactive robot behavior to a level compatible with content creation. Afterwards, we apply the Cognitive Dimensions Framework (CDF) approach for evaluation of the usability of this environment that is employed to control a robot interacting with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). A pilot test with therapists of two clinics followed by a test with adolescents with autism was performed. Participants in the pilot test performed tasks according to the different types of user activity in the CDF, and answered a questionnaire corresponding with the different dimensions. The results show negative attitude towards one particular dimension, but also high scores in other dimensions. As an additional validation of the usability of the environment, 9 adolescents with ASD could also create robot scenarios. We interpret these results as follows. In general, the therapists and autistic adolescents could program relatively simple behavioral scenarios with robots. However, we need to further explore whether assembling and executing of more complex robot scenarios such as programming of dynamic real-life behaviors and task scheduling is possible by end-users.
Keywordsautism spectrum disorder cognitive dimensions framework co-creation of contents robot assisted autism therapy
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