Development of an ABA autism intervention delivered by a humanoid robot

Michelle Salvador, Anna Sophia Marsh, Anibal Gutierrez, Mohammad H. Mahoor

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

7 Scopus citations


Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) techniques are widely used and accepted by the Autism research community as an effective Autism therapy method. ABA techniques have been recently introduced to use with Socially Assistive robots (SAR) to deliver Autism therapy. Nonetheless, little research has been published to investigate the use of robot-based ABA in teaching socio-emotional skills for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This paper presents the development of an ABA-based autonomous therapy system delivered by a humanoid robot, the Zeno R-50. Specifically, an intervention methodology with a prompt and an ABA reinforcement protocol to target skills associated with facial and situational emotion recognition and understanding are presented. Eleven children diagnosed with Autism were recruited to participate in the pre-pilot study screening. Initial results are investigated to discover the children’s preferred reinforcers and also to find ways of improving the therapy system before proceeding through full study groups. Results demonstrate the successful detection of reinforcers and show there is correlation between reinforcer preference and age. Results on two children who have completed interventions are presented and improvements to the protocol are discussed to contribute to the understanding of SAR in teaching socio-emotional skills to children diagnosed with ASD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSocial Robotics - 8th International Conference, ICSR 2016, Proceedings
EditorsArvin Agah, Miguel A. Salichs, Hongsheng He, John-John Cabibihan, Ayanna M. Howard
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9783319474366
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes
Event8th International Conference on Social Robotics, ICSR 2016 - Kansas City, United States
Duration: Nov 1 2016Nov 3 2016

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume9979 LNAI
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Other8th International Conference on Social Robotics, ICSR 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityKansas City

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)


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