How Could Robots Improve Social Skills in Children with Autism?

Accessibility & Assistive Technology , Conferences & Missions , Publications Jan 18, 2018 No Comments
How Could Robots Improve Social Skills in Children with Autism

During ICTA Conference, I presented a paper entitled “How Could Robots Improve Social Skills in Children with Autism?” which is a position paper that aims to improve educational skills of autistic children. The paper was presented with the presence of my colleague Mursi Seraj. Mursi is gifted children having 16 years old who developed the embedded software in Nao Robot.

Abstract-

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) might lack communication and social capabilities, which are essential for collaboration with other individuals and for the quality of life. The autistic children typically have problems in perceiving and displaying social clues and sentiments, a condition that obscures, even more, their deficiency of interaction abilities. Recent research has shown that robots can be helpful in stimulating social skills in autistic children, encouraging imitation, touch, eye gaze, and communication with persons. This paper aims to understand the theoretical basis of how robots can be helpful in improving the social skills of children with Autism. The paper will also examine empirical literature along with the particular focus on social robots which have been designed especially to improve social skills of children with autism.

Demo (Youtube Video)

MADA initiative

MADA Assistive Technology Center, based on Doha Qatar, starts in the second semester of 2017 a new project that aims to use Social Robots to improve skills in children with Autism. The idea was to design a prototype applications that uses robot sensor like microphone, speech recognition module. The process of the application is that the robot ask questions to the children with Autism and wait for the answer. If the answer is correct, the robot play sound and pass to the next question. At the end, if all questions are correct the robot starts dancing and playing music.
The total number of questions is three as a first prototype and the question are basic like “What is the colour of my eyes? And How much nine plus ten?” At the end, if all questions are correct, the robot starts dancing and playing music.
The prototype had been tested locally and as a perspective, we will plan to test the application in schools and record interactions with children with autism. And, questions will be classified in groups like Mathematics, learning colours, improve communication, etc.

To cite the paper:

A. Othman, M. Mohsin, “How Robots Could Improve Social Skills in Children with Autism”, ICTA’17, Muscat Oman, 19-21 December 2017.

To download presentation click here.

Achraf Othman

Dr. Achraf is a senior research specialist in Accessibility and Assistive Technology for People with disabilities and Machine Translation and Machine Learning.