All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Maria I Hopkins

Advisory Committee Members

Fred J Biasini

Edwin W Cook, Iii

Sarah E O'Kelley

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2018

Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

This study examined the effectiveness of a robot-based social skills intervention for school-age children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) across a range of cognitive ability. Sixteen children were assigned to either the intervention group (n = 8), which received the robot intervention, or a control group (n = 8), which played non-emotion games with the robot. All participants reported high levels of enjoyment, motivation, and willingness to have future robot interaction sessions, indicating that the robot intervention is engaging and interesting for this population. However, there was no difference between groups on measures of emotion identification or generalized social skills. Exploratory analysis showed significant improvement within the intervention group on emotion identification accuracy and within both groups on parent-rated social skills. Overall, the results of this study indicate that robot-based interventions can be used as a method of teaching for children with ASD across a range of IQ levels and should be explored further. This intervention did not prove more effective for the intervention group compared with control participants. This may be due to the dose or content of the intervention, the outcome measures chosen, or the power of the study. Future research in this area should address study limitations and investigate which participant characteristics are predictive of social skills improvement following intervention.

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