Application of Robots in Improving Joint Attention and Imitation Skills for Children with Autism: A Comprehensive Review


Sarah Afiqah Mohd Zabidi, Hazlina Md. Yusof, Shahrul Naim Sidek, Aimi Shazwani Ghazali, Mohammad Ariff Rashidan


Department of Mechatronics Engineering, International Islamic University Malaysia, Jalan Gombak, 53100, Selangor, Malaysia.

Corresponding Author Email: [email protected]

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Increasing interest on autism brings about prospect of use of Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) method as an assistive tool for therapy. This article presents a review of contemporary topic related to HRI studies to facilitate the improvement of joint attention and imitation skill for ASD children. This review highlights the relevance of past research. Discussion includes experimental design of HRI platforms, methodological steps, test subjects selection, study measures, and the outcomes. We limit studies from the past 10 years to give a clear insight on current state of art technologies. The results are presented such that new or experienced researchers may gain insight on state-of-the-art HRI development for ASD children and help HRI-based interventions meet clinical standards. As results, studies suggest that the use of HRI contributes to positive implications, especially in gaining attention from ASD subjects during therapy sessions. That is, ASD children initiated more social interactions with a robotic partner than a human partner. Thus, it can be concluded that robots have a huge potential to be used as a tool for a therapist to connect with ASD children easily. Future studies might focus on developing a more autonomous HRI so that the robots are capable to operate independently with minor intervention by humans.