Child-Robot Interaction in a Musical Dance Game: An Exploratory Comparison Study between Typically Developing Children and Children with Autism

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Department of Computer Science


Using robots in therapy for children on the autism spectrum is a promising avenue for child-robot interaction, and one that has garnered significant interest from the research community. After preliminary interviews with stakeholders and evaluating music selections, twelve typically developing (TD) children and three children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) participated in an experiment where they played the dance freeze game to four songs in partnership with either a NAO robot or a human partner. Overall, there were significant differences between TD children and children with ASD (e.g., mimicry, dance quality, & game play). There were mixed results for TD children, but they tended to show greater engagement with the researcher. However, objective results for children with ASD showed greater attention and engagement while dancing with the robot. There was little difference in game performance between partners or songs for either group. However, upbeat music did encourage greater movement than calm music. Using a robot in a musical dance game for children with ASD appears to show the advantages and potential just as in previous research efforts. Implications and future research are discussed with the results.

Publisher's Statement

© 2020 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.1080/10447318.2020.1819667

Publication Title

International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction