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The work presented in this paper was carried out within the IROMEC project that develops a robotic toy for children. Play has an important role in child development with many potential contributions to therapy, education and enjoyment. The project investigates how robotic toys can become social mediators, encouraging children with disabilities to discover a range of play styles, from solitary to social and cooperative play (with peers, carers/teachers, parents etc). This paper presents design issues for such robotic toys related specifically to children with autism as the end user target group. In order to understand the play needs of this user group, and to investigate how robotic toys could be used as a play tool to assist in the children's development, a panel of experts (therapists, teachers, parents) was formed and interviewed. Results of the expert panel interview s highlight key points characterizing the play of children with autism, and key points for consideration in the design of future robotic toys.
Date of Conference: 26-29 Aug. 2007