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      The impact of robotic intervention on joint attention in children with autism spectrum disorders

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          A growing body of anecdotal evidence indicates that the use of robots may provide unique opportunities for assisting children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). However, previous studies investigating the effects of interventions using robots on joint attention (JA) in children with ASD have shown insufficient results. The robots used in these studies could not turn their eyes, which was a limitation preventing the robot from resembling a human agent.


          We compared the behavior of children with ASD with that of children with typical development (TD) during a JA elicitation task while the children interacted with either a human or a robotic agent. We used the robot “CommU,” which has clear eyes and can turn its eyes, for the robotic intervention. The age range of the participants was limited to 5–6 years.


          Sixty-eight participants participated in this study, including 30 (10 females and 20 males) children with ASD and 38 (13 females and 25 males) children with TD. The participants were randomly assigned to one of the following two groups: the robotic intervention group or the control group. JA in the children with ASD was better during the robotic intervention than during the human agent intervention. These children exhibited improved performance in the JA task with human after interacting with the robot CommU. JA was differentially facilitated by the human and robotic agents between the ASD and TD children.


          The findings of this study significantly contribute to the literature on the impact of robots on JA and provide information regarding the suitability of specific robot types for therapeutic use.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (10.1186/s13229-018-0230-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references 34

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          Reliability and validity of Japanese version of the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview.

          The Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI) is a short, structured diagnostic interview used as a tool to diagnose 16 axis I (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) DSM-IV disorders and one personality disorder. Its original version was developed by Sheehan and Lecrubier. We translated the MINI into Japanese, and investigated the reliability and validity of the Japanese version of MINI. Eighty-two subjects participated in the validation of the MINI versus the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R (SCID-P). One hundred and sixty-nine subjects participated in the validation of the MINI versus an expert's professional opinion. Seventy-seven subjects were interviewed by two investigators and subsequently readministered by a third interviewer blind to the results of initial evaluation 1-2 days later. In general, kappa values indicated good or excellent agreement between MINI and SCID-P diagnoses. Kappa values indicated poor agreement between MINI and expert's diagnoses for most diagnoses. Interrater and test-retest reliabilities were good or excellent. The mean durations of the interview were 18.8 min for MINI and 45.4 min for corresponding sections of SCID-P. Overall, the results suggest that the MINI Japanese version succeeds in reliably and validly eliciting symptom criteria used in making DSM-III-R diagnoses, and can be performed in less than half the time required for the SCID-P.
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            Randomized Controlled Caregiver Mediated Joint Engagement Intervention for Toddlers with Autism

            This study aimed to determine if a joint attention intervention would result in greater joint engagement between caregivers and toddlers with autism. The intervention consisted of 24 caregiver-mediated sessions with follow-up 1 year later. Compared to caregivers and toddlers randomized to the waitlist control group the immediate treatment (IT) group made significant improvements in targeted areas of joint engagement. The IT group demonstrated significant improvements with medium to large effect sizes in their responsiveness to joint attention and their diversity of functional play acts after the intervention with maintenance of these skills 1 year post-intervention. These are among the first randomized controlled data to suggest that short-term parent-mediated interventions can have important effects on core impairments in toddlers with autism. Clinical Trials #: NCT00065910.
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              The Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders: background, inter-rater reliability and clinical use


                Author and article information

                +81-762-65-2856 , kumazaki@tiara.ocn.ne.jp
                Mol Autism
                Mol Autism
                Molecular Autism
                BioMed Central (London )
                4 September 2018
                4 September 2018
                : 9
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2308 3329, GRID grid.9707.9, Research Center for Child Mental Development, , Kanazawa University, ; 13-1, Takaramachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-8640 Japan
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0373 3971, GRID grid.136593.b, Department of Systems Innovation, Graduate School of Engineering Science, , Osaka University, ; 1-3, Machikaneryamachou, Toyonaka, Osaka, 560-0043 Japan
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2230 7538, GRID grid.208504.b, Service Robotics Research Group, Intelligent Systems Institute, , National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, ; Ibaraki, 305-8560 Japan
                © The Author(s). 2018

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Funded by: Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
                Award ID: 17H05857
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: ERATO ISHIGURO Symbiotic Human-Robot Interaction Project
                Funded by: the Center of Innovation Program from the Japan Science and Technology Agency, JST, Japan.
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                © The Author(s) 2018


                autism spectrum disorders, typical development, intervention, joint attention, robot


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