Using robot animation to promote gestural skills in children with autism spectrum disorders
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School-aged children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have delayed gestural development, in comparison with age-matched typically developing children. In this study, an intervention program taught children with low-functioning ASD gestural comprehension and production using video modelling (VM) by a computer-generated robot animation. Six to 12-year-old children with ASD (N = 20; IQ < 70) were taught to recognize 20 gestures produced by the robot animation (phase I), to imitate these gestures (phase II) and to produce them in appropriate social contexts (phase III). Across the three phases, significant differences were found between the results of the pretest and the immediate and follow-up posttests; the results of both posttests were comparable, after controlling for the children's motor and visual memory skills. The children generalized their acquired gestural skills to a novel setting with a human researcher. These results suggest that VM by a robot animation is effective in teaching children with low-functioning ASD to recognize and produce gestures. Lay Description: What is already known about this topic: Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have difficulties with nonverbal communication. Children with ASD have difficulties in recognizing and producing gestures. What this paper adds: A multiphase therapeutic intervention program using video modelling (VM) of robot animation is effective to promoting the gestural communication skills, both recognition and production, in children with low-functioning ASD. Children with ASD have improved their skills to recognize the taught gestures (phase I), imitate them (phase II) and produce them in appropriate social contexts (phase III). Children with ASD are able to generalize the acquired skills to human-to-human interactions after the intervention program. Implications for practice and/or policy: VM of a robot animation is effective in teaching children with low-functioning ASD both gesture recognition and gesture production. The multiphase therapeutic intervention protocol can be recommended for clinicians or teachers in special schools to teach children with low-functioning ASD gestural communication skills.
- Mechanical & Industrial Systems Engineering [593 items ]