Skip to Main Content
Investigation into robot-assisted intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has gained momentum in recent years. Therapists involved in interventions must overcome the communication impairments generally exhibited by children with ASD by adeptly inferring the affective cues of the children to adjust the intervention accordingly. Similarly, a robot must also be able to understand the affective needs of these children-an ability that the current robot-assisted ASD intervention systems lack-to achieve effective interaction that addresses the role of affective states in human-robot interaction and intervention practice. In this paper, we present a physiology-based affect-inference mechanism for robot-assisted intervention where the robot can detect the affective states of a child with ASD as discerned by a therapist and adapt its behaviors accordingly. This paper is the first step toward developing ldquounderstandingrdquo robots for use in future ASD intervention. Experimental results with six children with ASD from a proof-of-concept experiment (i.e., a robot-based basketball game) are presented. The robot learned the individual liking level of each child with regard to the game configuration and selected appropriate behaviors to present the task at his/her preferred liking level. Results show that the robot automatically predicted individual liking level in real time with 81.1% accuracy. This is the first time, to our knowledge, that the affective states of children with ASD have been detected via a physiology-based affect recognition technique in real time. This is also the first time that the impact of affect-sensitive closed-loop interaction between a robot and a child with ASD has been demonstrated experimentally.
Date of Publication: Aug. 2008