Socially Assistive Robots for Children with ASD
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disability characterized by a wide range of behavioral deficits in communication and social interaction. While there is no definite cure for this spectrum of disabilities, early behavioral intervention has demonstrated a measurable improvement in the development of the numerous skills necessary to navigate social interactions. Among the various technologies that support behavioral intervention for children with ASD, socially assistive robots (SAR) with physical embodiment and rich social presence offer unique opportunities to engage children with ASD in behavioral therapies. Increasing evidence has shown that robots are able to elicit novel behavioral responses from and sustain an engaging interaction with these children.
In this line of research, we focus on developing socially assistive robot systems that provide personalized, adaptive support to account for the diverse abilities and characteristics of autism. We strive to deploy our systems to real-world environments (e.g., homes and clinical settings) to evaluate the efficacy of our robot-mediated intervention and understand how it can be integrated into people’s daily routines and/or current clinical practices to maximize its outcomes.