In the recent decades, socially assistive robots (SAR) have shown to be a promising technology for serving as tools for children with special needs, their family, and the healthcare professionals who attend to these children. Research over the past decades has demonstrated that SAR can be beneficial to children with various physical or mental conditions, such as autism spectrum condition, speech and language impairments, diabetes, or cancer. In those studies, SAR have served as companions, therapeutic play partners, coaches, or as tools that can aid healthcare professionals in diagnosis by providing standardized social stimuli.
Despite showing great promise, SAR are not (yet) considered an evidence-based practice. Studies will need to show the utility of SAR to the users, involve key stakeholders in the design of the SAR, and enable SAR interventions to be incorporated into existing practices. Due to the cross-disciplinary nature of such studies, it is difficult to find an appropriate methodology and successfully apply it to the field of child-robot interaction. Researchers may not be aware of methodologies used in other field, be able to apply them, or cannot use certain methodologies due to practical constraints such as not having access to the required number of participants or dealing with factors related to conducting research in uncontrolled environments. Dealing with these methodological challenging will be essential for the field to move forward.
With this full-day workshop we aim at bringing together researchers and practitioners from various disciplines to discuss current methodological challenges for conducting studies with children with special needs. The target audience includes academic and industry researchers working on the topic of socially assistive robotics for children with special needs, and healthcare professionals. Given the multidisciplinary nature of the topic, we invite people with all kinds of backgrounds to contribute.
In conjunction with: