;Children with Autism usually present symptoms such as abnormal social skills, abnormal communication skills, and abnormal behavior patterns. Several therapeutic approaches (e.g., social stories, picture cards, music therapy) have been attempted over the years. Recently, many socially interactive robots have also been used to assist in the therapy of children with autism. This thesis proposes a robot-based interactive system which integrates socially interactive robots, social stories, and picture cards. The interactive system consists of two sub-systems: a social story interactive sub-system and a picture cue card interactive sub-system.
In recent years, social stories have been adopted as a treatment or education tool to teach specific social communication skills, behaviors, concepts to children with autism. The proposed social story interactive sub-system provides a user-friendly story editing tool to allow teachers or parents to easily edit social stories in terms of texts. Then the robot can vividly act out the social stories by itself. We hope this kind of interactions can create interesting and meaningful learning situations to promote children’ interest and improve their engagements in learning social stories.
Picture cue cards are another effective education tool to empower children with autism to effectively access communication, express demands, and increase comprehension. The picture cue card interactive sub-system consists of a robot, a Kinect sensor, a personal computer, and a picture cue card recognition module. It endows the robot with the ability of reading out the picture cards placed in front of it. Via this kind of interesting interactions, children can practice the learning material of the cards by themselves.
We hope the interactive system can create interesting, appealing, and meaningful interplay environments that compel children to interact with them. We hope these interactive systems can alleviate the therapy personnel or parents from the heavy burdens of the caring and educating children with autism. In addition, we hope the system can promote autism children’s interest to interact with the outside world and improve their engagement in being willing to interact with people.