Therapeutic and educational objectives in robot assisted play for children with autism
This article is a methodological paper that describes the therapeutic and educational objectives that were identified during the design process of a robot aimed at robot assisted play. The work described in this paper is part of the IROMEC project (Interactive Robotic Social Mediators as Companions) that recognizes the important role of play in child development and targets children who are prevented from or inhibited in playing. The project investigates the role of an interactive, autonomous robotic toy in therapy and education for children with special needs. This paper specifically addresses the therapeutic and educational objectives related to children with autism. In recent years, robots have already been used to teach basic social interaction skills to children with autism. The added value of the IROMEC robot is that play scenarios have been developed taking children's specific strengths and needs into consideration and covering a wide range of objectives in children's development areas (sensory, communicational and interaction, motor, cognitive and social and emotional). The paper describes children's developmental areas and illustrates how different experiences and interactions with the IROMEC robot are designed to target objectives in these areas.