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A Preliminary Study on Effectiveness of a Standardized Multi-Robot Therapy for Improvement in Collaborative Multi-Human Interaction of Children with ASD

Ali, Sara and Mehmood, Faisal and Khan, Muhammad Jawad and Ayaz, Yasar and Asgher, Umer and Sadia, Haleema and Edifor, Ernest and Nawaz, Raheel (2020) A Preliminary Study on Effectiveness of a Standardized Multi-Robot Therapy for Improvement in Collaborative Multi-Human Interaction of Children with ASD. IEEE Access. p. 1.

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Abstract

This research article presents a preliminary longitudinal study to check the improvement in multi-human communication of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) using a standardized multirobot therapy. The research is based on a 3 step framework: 1) Human-Human Interaction, Stage-1 (HHIS1), 2) Human-Robot Interaction, Stage-2 (HRI-S2), and 3) Human-Human Interaction, Stage-3 (HHI-S3). All three stages of the therapy consist of two command sets: 1) Controls commands and 2) Evaluation commands (auditory commands, visual commands, and combination of both). The concept of multiple robots is introduced to help multi-human communication and discourage isolation in ASD children. The joint attention of an ASD child is improved by the robotic therapy in stage 2 considering it as a key parameter for a multi-human communication scenario. The improvement in joint attention results in better command following in a triad multi-human communication scenario in stage 3 as compared to stage 1. The proposed intervention has been tested on 8 ASD subjects with 10 sessions over a period of two and a half months (10 weeks). Each session of human-human interaction (stage 1 and 3) consisted of 14 cues whereas 18 cues were presented by each robot for human-robot interaction (stage 2). The results indicate an overall 86improvement in the social communication skills of ASD children in case of a multi-human scenario. Validation of results and effectiveness of the therapy has been further accomplished through the use of the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) score.

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