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Adherence And Acceptability Of A Robot-assisted Pivotal Response Treatment Protocol For Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Iris van den Berk-Smeekens, Martine van Dongen-Boomsma, Manon W. P. De Korte, Jenny C. Den Boer, Iris J. Oosterling, Nienke C. Peters-Scheffer, Jan K. Buitelaar, Emilia I. Barakova, Tino Lourens, Wouter G. Staal, Jeffrey C. Glennon

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AbstractThe aim of this study is to present a robot-assisted therapy protocol for children with ASD based on the current state-of-the-art in both ASD intervention research and robotics research, and critically evaluate its adherence and acceptability based on child as well as parent ratings. The robot-assisted therapy was designed based on motivational components of Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT), a highly promising and feasible intervention focused at training “pivotal” (key) areas such as motivation for social interaction and self-initiations, with the goal of establishing collateral gains in untargeted areas of functioning and development, affected by autism spectrum disorders. Overall, children (3–8 y) could adhere to the robot-assisted therapy protocol (Mean percentage of treatment adherence 85.5%), showed positive affect ratings after therapy sessions (positive in 86.6% of sessions) and high robot likability scores (high in 79.4% of sessions). Positive likability ratings were mainly given by school-aged children (H(1) = 7.91, p = .005) and related to the movements, speech and game scenarios of the robot. Parent ratings on the added value of the robot were mainly positive (Mean of 84.8 on 0–100 scale), while lower parent ratings were related to inflexibility of robot behaviour.