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October 29, 2018

Socially assistive robots for children on the autism spectrum

Study to advance in-home robots that adapt to the individual needs of children with autism

Many children on the autism spectrum respond positively to robots, and interaction with socially assistive robots generally improves the social behaviors of children with autism, in addition to motivating them to learn.

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), roboticist Maja Matarić, educational psychologist Gisele Ragusa and a team in the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California are developing fundamental computational techniques that will enable the design, implementation and evaluation of robots that encourage social and cognitive growth in children with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental challenges.

Clinicians and families struggle to provide individualized educational services for children with social and cognitive difficulties. This research aims to support the children with socially assistive robots, customized to each child's individual needs, to help guide the children toward long-term behavioral goals.

The research in this episode was supported by NSF award #1139148, Collaborative Research: Socially Assistive Robots.

Miles O'Brien, Science Nation Correspondent
Kate Tobin, Science Nation Producer

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.