DOI: 10.3390/bs13080618 ISSN: 2076-328X

Measuring Engagement in Robot-Assisted Therapy for Autistic Children

Abeer Al-Nafjan, Noura Alhakbani, Amal Alabdulkareem
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • General Psychology
  • Genetics
  • Development
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Children with autism face a range of challenges when it comes to verbal and nonverbal communication. It is essential that children participate in a variety of social, educational, and therapeutic activities to acquire knowledge that is essential for cognitive and social development. Recent studies have shown that children with autism may be interested in playing with an interactive robot. The robot can engage these children in ways that demonstrate and train essential aspects of human interaction, guiding them in therapeutic sessions to practice more complex forms of interaction found in social human-to-human interactions. This study sets out to investigate Robot-Assisted Autism Therapy (RAAT) and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) approaches for measuring the engagement of children during therapy sessions. The study population consisted of five native Arabic-speaking autistic children aged between 4 and 11 years old. The child–robot interaction was recorded by the robot camera and later used for analysis to detect engagement. The results show that the proposed system offers some accuracy in measuring the engagement of children with ASD. Our findings revealed that robot-assisted therapy is a promising field of application for intelligent social robots, especially to support autistic children in achieving their therapeutic and educational objectives.

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