Robot-Mediated Interventions to Enhance Communication and Social Abilities of Children and Youth with Disabilities: a Review of the Literature
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Objectives: The current paper presents a review of the literature discussing the trends in research that conducted robot-mediated interventions to enhance communication and social abilities of children and youth with disabilities. Method: Thirty-two dissertation or research articles published after 2000 were selected and divided into thematic categories for analysis, including participants, setting, research method, characteristics of robot-mediated interventions, roles of robots, and the results of studies. Results: First, the research most frequently focused on children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Second, most of the research was conducted in educational settings. Third, most research used quantitative research design, in particular a single-subject research design method was the most common. Fourth, in most of the research humanoid robots assisted the intervention, acting as an interaction partner of participants and as an instrumental medium to prompt the participants to demonstrate desirable behavior. Finally, most studies reported positive effects of robot-mediated intervention in the communication and social abilities of children and youth with disabilities. Conclusion: The paper provides the outcomes and limitations of robot-mediated interventions for children and youth with disabilities and the implications for future research.