Autism is a developmental disorder characterized by atypical social interactions and repetitive behaviors/restricted interests. It is found that children with autism also experience delayed or impaired motor skills development . It would be advantageous to develop methods that precisely evaluate these motor skills impairments. The use of robots for evaluating upper limb motor competency have been looked at in the stroke literature . We would like to leverage robotic tools for motor skills assessment but with focus for children with autism spectrum disorder.
Robotic methodologies provide a unique way of testing upper limb motor skills. For instance, if a person holds on to the end of a robot arm and moves the robot arm in space, the robot can apply forces and prevent or assist the person with these motions. In this fashion, the robot can apply perturbations in a repeatable and precise manner with high fidelity.
Since individuals with autism have anxieties interacting with other individuals, using an impersonal robot would alleviate the anxiety of social interactions. These individuals learn motor skills best with consistent repetition and strong reinforcement, qualities that robots provide.
Therefore, a robot based evaluation strategy and therapy paradigm for children with Autism would be beneficial for the community.