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Therapy with Robots May Help Social Skills in ASD

By Chelsea E. Toledo, M.A. on April 6, 2016
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Background: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by differences in socialization, communication, and behavior. Novel approaches, such as robot-based interaction programs, are emerging as cutting-edge technologies for autism therapy.


What’s New: A recent issue of Autonomous Robot featured a study exploring whether incorporating robots into existing ASD therapies could further improve performance on assessments. The researchers administered speech therapy over a period of six weeks to 11 children between the ages of three and six with both ASD and language delay. Eight of those children also received interventions twice a week for 30 minutes each session with a robot invented by the researchers called Child Centered Adaptive Robot for Learning Environments, or CHARLIE, which could imitate the children’s movements and engage in games. They found that the group who interacted with CHARLIE showed greater improvement in receptive language, play and leisure scores on a commonly used assessment at the end of the study.


Why it’s important: This study suggests that interactions with robots may improve interactions with other people in children with ASD. Future research could further explore that possibility with a larger sample of children representing different ages and ASD severity.

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