Designing and Evaluating Interactive Agents as Social Skills Tutors for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Marissa Milne, Martin Luerssen, Trent Lewis, Richard Leibbrandt, David Powers

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    11 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) makes communication and social interaction very difficult for those affected. Existing studies have reported positive results for teaching social skills to children with ASD using human-controlled virtual agents and language skills using autonomous agents. Here we combine these approaches and investigate the potential of autonomous agents as social skills tutors. A system for audio-visually synthesising an agent is developed towards this purpose and utilised together with two tutoring modules that we specifically designed for teaching conversation skills and how to deal with bullying. Following evaluation, children's thoughts about their experience with the virtual tutor were investigated through use of a survey. The positive feedback and the modest but significant improvements in test scores for both modules suggest that this strategy for teaching social skills has much potential and that further research and development in this area would be eminently worthwhile.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationConversational Agents and Natural Language Interaction
    Subtitle of host publicationTechniques and Effective Practices
    PublisherIGI Global
    Pages23-49
    Number of pages27
    ISBN (Print)9781609606176
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

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