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Sociopsychological and Physiological Effects of a Robot-assisted Therapy for Children With Autism
Huang, L; Bharatharaj, J; Al-Jumaily, A; Elara Mohan, R; Krageloh, C
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This article reports our findings from a robot-assisted therapeutic study conducted over 49 days to investigate the sociopsychological and physiological effects in children with autism spectrum disorder using a parrot-inspired robot, KiliRo, that we developed to help in therapeutic settings. We investigated the frequency of participants’ interactions among each other and assessed any changes in interaction using social network analysis. Interactions were assessed through manual observation before and after exposure to the robot. Urinary and salivary tests were performed to obtain protein and α-amylase levels, respectively, to report the physiological changes in participating children with autism spectrum disorder before and after interacting with the robot. This is a pioneering human–robot interaction study to investigate changes in stress levels using salivary samples. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, and arterial oxygen saturation level in blood were also monitored to investigate the physiological changes in participating children before, during, and after interacting with our parrot-inspired robot, KiliRo. The results show that the robot can help increase social interaction among children with autism spectrum disorder and assist in learning tasks. Furthermore, the clinical biochemistry test report using urinary and salivary samples indicates that the stress levels of children with autism reduced notably after interacting with the robot. Nevertheless, blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen levels in blood did not show positive change in all participants.