Social Robots and Autism
Robotic research and imaginaries of autism often centre around the potential of robot therapies for transforming or healing the person with autism or the preference of those “on the spectrum” for mechanical and predictable things over other persons. This approach, as it is used in the design of assistive technologies and artificial intelligence systems in Euro-American research, reinscribes Enlightenment structures that lead to classify certain behaviours as autistic or social deficits while other similar expressions enjoy rational status as socially accepted.
What does it mean to be labelled as autistic? What does a social robot need to have for being used in autism? How and when does the socially interactive performance of the robot comes into existence? And, how do human-robot interactions-based interventions for ASD inform the development of the socially assistive robotics field? Drawing upon ethnographic methods, my research finds shelter at the juncture of inter- and transdisciplinary approaches where feminist and decolonial studies constitute the dwellings that inform my writing.
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