Robot-assisted therapeutic support - Research: thesis

ROB’AUTISME

Health & well-living
Research

The Rob’Autisme project began in 2014, in collaboration with Nantes University Hospital and Stéréolux. Its objective was to develop therapeutic support for teenagers on the autistic spectrum (ASD) using humanoid, NAO robots (Softbank Robotics), in a cultural mediation and creativity context. The project has been extended as part of a thesis (LS2N/École Centrale Nantes) co-funded by West Creative Industries (50%) and the École Centrale Nantes (50%).

About the project

The Rob’Autisme project began in 2014, in collaboration with Nantes University Hospital and Stéréolux, to offer therapeutic support to teenagers on the autistic spectrum (ASD) using humanoid, NAO robots (Softbank Robotics), in a cultural mediation and creativity context. A focus group of six young people with autism was monitored from 2014 to 2016 with very encouraging results: self-inflicted injuries healed and disappeared, anxiety attacks became less frequent, and the young subjects developed organised and voluntary communication skills. This focus group received a first round of therapeutic support in 2014-15 (20 sessions) followed by a second in 2015-16 (20 sessions). The two years concluded with a public performance to showcase their work. The experiment showed the subjects making stable progress over time and a visible improvement by the end of the second year, with their autism becoming harder to detect to external observers. A new group was studied in 2017.

 

For this thesis, the initial results will be generalised across a wider population and the mechanisms that made such spectacular results possible will be investigated.

 

Publications and/or communications

  • Two international lectures (MESROB, 2016; ICSR, 2017),
  • Ten lectures for the general public (including one TEDx)
  • One journal article (Tétralogiques, March 2017)
  • One chapter in a joint publication organised by Serge Tisseron and Frédéric Tordo (April 2017).
  • The project has enjoyed considerable media coverage nationally.

Schedule

2017-19 workshops: collection and analysis of experimental data
2019: write-up of the thesis manuscript and a user manual (final version)

Methodology

5 stages:

1. Call for participation (associations and institutions in the Loire-Atlantique region)

2. Organisation of groups (6 autistic people/20 sessions)

3. Evaluation of results (before/after, questionnaire for
parents, children’s drawings)

4. Application of therapeutic support (20 sessions, observations)

5. Showcase of the children’s programming (limited public)

 

Prospects

The project offers potential for a number of publications and presentations at scientific conferences in the fields of robotics and psychiatry; production of a user manual for medical teaching establishments and other relevant bodies; and implementation in medical teaching establishments (working with the voluntary organisation Robots!).

 

 

Contact

Sophie Sakka, (LS2N / ECN)

sophie.sakka@ec-nantes.fr

Actors

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