Robot-based intervention may reduce delay in the production of intransitive gestures in Chinese-speaking preschoolers with autism spectrum disorder
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AbstractBackground
Past studies have shown that robot-based intervention was effective in improving gestural use in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The present study examined whether children with ASD could catch up to the level of gestural production found in age-matched children with typical development and whether they showed an increase in verbal imitation after the completion of robot-based training. We also explored the cognitive and motor skills associated with gestural learning.

Methods
Children with ASD were randomly assigned to two groups. Four- to 6-year-old children with ASD in the intervention group (N = 15) received four 30-min robot-based gestural training sessions. In each session, a social robot, NAO, narrated five stories and gestured (e.g., both hands clapping for an awesome expression). Children with ASD were told to imitate the gestures during training. Age-matched children with ASD in the wait-list control group (N = 15) and age-matched children with typical development (N = 15) received the gestural training after the completion of research. Standardized pretests and posttests (both immediate and delayed) were administered to assess the accuracy and appropriateness of gestural production in both training and novel stories. Children’s language and communication abilities, gestural recognition skills, fine motor proficiencies, and attention skills were also examined.

Results
Children with ASD in the intervention condition were more likely to produce accurate or appropriate intransitive gestures in training and novel stories than those in the wait-list control. The positive learning outcomes were maintained in the delayed posttests. The level of gestural production accuracy in children with ASD in the delayed posttest of novel stories was comparable to that in children with typical development, suggesting that children with ASD could catch up to the level of gestural production found in children with typical development. Children with ASD in the intervention condition were also more likely to produce verbal markers while gesturing than those in the wait-list control. Gestural recognition skills were found to significantly predict the learning of gestural production accuracy in the children with ASD, with such relation partially mediated via spontaneous imitation.

Conclusions
Robot-based intervention may reduce the gestural delay in children with ASD in their early childhood.
Acceptance Date02/05/2018
All Author(s) ListWing-Chee So, Miranda Kit-Yi Wong, Wan-Yi Lam, Chun-Ho Cheng, Jia-Hao Yang, Ying Huang, Phoebe Ng, Wai-Leung Wong, Chiu-Lok Ho, Kit-Ling Yeung, Cheuk-Chi Lee
Journal nameMolecular Autism
Year2018
Month5
Day24
Volume Number9
PublisherBioMed Central
Article number34
ISSN2040-2392
LanguagesEnglish-United States

Last updated on 2021-19-01 at 02:23