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The prototypical scenario, which will be used to guide DREAM, is illustrated by the picture on the left, in which the girl receives therapy from Probo, one of the robotic platforms to be used in DREAM. At the age of four, the girl was diagnosed with ASD by a clinical psychologist using the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (Generic ADOS-G), and the Autism Diagnostic Interview (ADI-R).
She participated in some experiments with robots and the therapists were surprised by the positive responsiveness of the child to the interaction with the robot. Experiments showed improved results compared to the situations in which a human gave a similar intervention. The major problem was that the procedure involving the robot was costly because the robot had to be operated by an additional person. The robot was not able to record the performance in therapy and so additional time resources were needed after the intervention.
As a result of the DREAM project, the robot will no longer require a separate human operator. The workload of the therapist will also be reduced since major parts of the intervention can be taken over by the robot and a set of cameras, e.g. monitoring and recording the behaviour of the child, grabbing back the attention of the child when disinterested and adapting between levels of intervention, allowing the therapist to oversee different children and plan the required intervention for every child on an individual basis. Moreover, parents will receive regular reports with objective measurements regarding the progress of the child, which can then be discussed with the therapist to cater for these concerns.
The typical setup for the experiments will be as in the next figure where the child sits on the lap of the therapist with the robot in front of her/him. There would be several objects on the table and pictures on the walls to play games. Several cameras placed around the room will be set up to capture the interaction from different points of view.