Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a set of developmental conditions hallmarked by three core areas of impairment: restrictive repetitive behaviour, lack of social interaction skills and atypical communication. Human-to-human interaction contexts, like therapy, can be challenging for someone with an ASD. Thus, innovative methods for therapy that leverage the cognitive style of individual’s with ASD (e.g. preference for sameness) are of great interest.
Robot-based autism therapy is a rapidly growing area of research. Currently a wide variety of robots are being developed and studied for clinical use. Evaluation of robots for this purpose requires researchers and therapists to carefully scrutinise the robot’s performance. Collectively however, researchers in this field could bring together findings to generate a more detailed picture as to the effectiveness of robots used for autism therapy and their practicality in a clinical setting.
Work to date shows that autistic individuals generally respond well to robots that are both anthropomorphic (human-like in appearance) and non-anthropomorphic. However, the therapeutic interaction should resemble the real world context of receiving the therapy. As robots used for autism therapy vary, this workshop seeks to increase research networks and knowledge sharing, to address the current and future challenges of robot based autism therapy.
The goal of this workshop is to enable a cross fertilization of ideas and solutions for the issues encountered by researchers when attempting to develop robotic agents for autism therapy. Similarly through this workshop, we aim to better understand the limitations of robotic agents, not only with respect to their construction, but also when they are placed in a clinical setting for therapeutic use.
We look forward to meeting like-minded researchers.
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