AISOY-UMH Autism spectrum disorder therapy. (Credit: Asociación RUVID)
AISOY Robotics and Universidad Miguel Hernández (UMH) researchers are working together to expand the capabilities of their robot-assistant to treat children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The specific aim of this collaboration is to identify different ways by which the AISOY robot can improve ASD treatment sessions at the UMH University Clinic.
The AISOY1 emotional robot has already been incorporated as the therapist’s assistant in the current therapies adopted at the University Clinic to treat children diagnosed with the autism spectrum. The current multidisciplinary research team will be incorporating their knowledge of behavioral therapy together with robotics to find new ways of better utilizing robots for therapy sessions.
Initially, a three-way interactive cycle involving the therapist, the child, and the robot will be framed and tested on young ASD outpatients. The main goal of this task is to enhance the emotional, social, and cognitive skills of the child.
For example, the robot will help the therapist to suggest games that focus on various skills and also express emotions that the child should identify. The child undergoing this treatment is expected to build emotional links with the robot, and hence this interaction and the additional interaction introduced in the sessions will result in improved therapeutic adherence.
As a future plan, researchers aim to extend the robot assistant to treat childhood problems like impulsivity symptoms, hyperactivity, and attention deficit disorder.
A tried-and-tested version of the software, specifically deigned for the AISOY robot, along with a specialized ASD mode for both parents and therapists will be available from January onwards.
UMH University Clinic is a healthcare technology centre that ensures that advancements in clinical research in behavioral sciences reach the society. UMH lecturers Elena Carratalá and José Pedro Espada, both doctors in psychology, are the main people involved in the psychoeducational work of the new software.
AISOY Robotics is a high-tech company that is based out of UMH Science Park. This organization is headed by CEO José Manuel del Rio, and he ensures that the artificial intelligence-based adaptations are properly used to enhance the therapeutic value of the AISOY1 robot.