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Children with autism social engagement in interaction with Nao, an imitative robot: A series of single case experiments

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This paper presents a series of 4 single subject experiments aimed to investigate whether children with autism show more social engagement when interacting with the Nao robot, compared to a human partner in a motor imitation task. The Nao robot imitates gross arm movements of the child in real-time. Different behavioral criteria (i.e. eye gaze, gaze shifting, free initiations and prompted initiations of arm movements, and smile/laughter) were analyzed based on the video data of the interaction. The results are mixed and suggest a high variability in reactions to the Nao robot. The results are as follows: For Child2 and Child3, the results indicate no effect of the Nao robot in any of the target variables. Child1 and Child4 showed more eye gaze and smile/laughter in the interaction with the Nao robot compared to the human partner and Child1 showed a higher frequency of motor initiations in the interaction with the Nao robot compared to the baselines, but not with respect to the human-interaction. The robot proved to be a better facilitator of shared attention only for Child1. Keywords: human-robot interaction; assistive robotics; autism
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2012

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  • Social Behaviour and Communication in Biological and Artificial Systems
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