|SPITALE MICOL||Cycle: XXXIV |
Section: Computer Science and Engineering
Tutor: PERNICI BARBARA
Advisor: GARZOTTO FRANCA Major Research topic
:Assessment and Rehabilitation of Linguistic Skills with Storytelling Conversational Agents for ;
Children with Autism Spectrum DisorderAbstract:
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD, or autism for short), refers to a broad range of conditions affectingapproximately 1% of the global population that is characterized by repetitive behaviors and impairments in social skills, speech and nonverbal communication. When a child is diagnosed with ASD, the DSM-5/ICD-11 requires specification of any accompanying language impairments. Besides universal difficulties with pragmatics, many, but not all, individuals with ASD also show deficits in other aspects of language, such as vocabulary, phonology, and morphosyntax. Studies on verbal children with autism have reported that roughly half of these children manifest mixed expressive/receptive language impairments while the rest present normal language abilities. It has been suggested that the use of new technologies may offer an innovative context for linguistic assessment by using interactive stimuli that could overcome the limits of traditional methods. Autism is a chronic state, but early and focused interventions are thought to mitigate its effect . Several studies demonstrate the importance of introducing interactive technologies for children with ASD in regular educational or therapeutic practices starting in childhood as a means of improving various cognitive, communication, and functional skills. The potential positive effect of interactive technologies for children with ASD is ascribed to a number of factors: digital environments are predictable; interactive systems can be designed to be flexible and customizable, enabling children to work according to their skills level; compared to interacting with humans, interacting with technology is potentially less stressful, less demanding emotionally, more engaging and more rewarding; technology does not get bored or frustrated when the user fails a task or repeats it multiple times to reach the goal, and can offer, in principle, a countless and varied real-time feedback upon task completion. Conversational Agents (CAs) are interactive software tools that interpret and respond to statements made by users in natural language. Conversational technologies can lead to different interaction channels, such as computer or tablet-based, robot-based, and only voice-based conversational technologies. This technology is thought to be promising for promoting communication and social skills among children with ASD, both during therapy and at home , and for increasing the autonomy and the quality of life of these users. CA technology allows people with ASD to practice speaking language during interactive activities, by vocally interacting with the environment itself, talking with the (physical or virtual) character, and expressing choices and commands.