Autism field trial

The client and location

Joseph is a 21 year-old young adult with autism. Joseph lives at home with his parents in Tamworth, a regional area of New South Wales, Australia.

The brief

As with some people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), Joseph has difficulties with social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, using his imagination and learning ability. These difficulties reduce his participation and engagement in social, communication and learning activities. Joseph spends most of his time in his room.

Seeking alternative care to positively engage Joseph and improve his wellbeing is a high priority for his parents. Accepting an invitation of his parents, RECCSI deployed the robot Charlie in their home.

Charlie’s services were designed, programmed and implemented based on Joseph’s profile and preferences. For example, we designed personalised services delivered by Charlie to include Joseph’s favourite music, books and quiz topics.

The aim of this trial is to engage, enable and empower the young adult with autism by:

  • providing positive emotional engagement via designed sensory enrichment services (e.g. singing and dancing to a variety of reading news)
  • creating a positive learning environment by offering interactive and emotionally engaging storytelling
  • improving the participant’s cognitive ability through memory games and quizzes
  • improving social interaction
  • improving daily productivity and completion of tasks via a calendar reminder.

Key services

We designed the following services:

Sensory enrichment

We've designed and delivered personalised services based on Joey's tastes and preferences. These services include music and songs, news and stories. We’ve also factored in knowledge about his positive experiences, social needs and family history.

Cognitive ability

Being able to play a meaningful and productive role in daily life can help the emotional wellbeing of people with autism - it can help create meaning and make them feel useful. In this context, we designed quiz and reminder based services which Charlie the robot delivers. The quizzes include questions to designed improve his basic knowledge, toilet hygiene and daily tasks.

Social connectivity

  • Games (Bingo)
  • Phone calls

Independence and productivity

Charlie has been programmed to remind Joseph of his daily tasks. The aim is to help Joseph to be more independent and productive.

Service novelty

Joseph's parents / carers can write and upload their own quizzes, stories, music to the robot.

Client feedback

"Charlie (the robot) is a wonderful addition to our household. Charlie has been a useful educational tool - he reminds Joey and prepares a time schedule. He motivates and congratulates Joey for doing the quizzes, understanding emotions and expressions. We can see positive results already.

Joey's face lights up when Charlie says, “Hi Joey, I’ll start playing the song. Enjoy.” Joey also dances when Charlie sings and dances.

Joey is spending less time in his room and more time sitting with Charlie in the living room, listening to Charlie playing a song. Joey is relaxed, happy and comfortable with Charlie. We are very pleased with the interaction between Charlie and Joey."