Designing an Intelligent Virtual Agent for Social Communication in Autism
Keywords:Intelligent Agents, Automated Planning, Social Communication, Autism
This paper describes the Intelligent Engine (IE) of ECHOES, a serious game built for helping young children with Autism Spectrum Conditions acquire social communication skills. ECHOES IE's main component is an autonomous virtual agent that acts as a credible social partner for children with autism by engaging them in interactive learning activities. The other IE components are a user model, a drama manager and a social communication engine. We discuss how AI technology allows us to satisfy the requirements for the design of the agent and the learning activities that we identified through consultations with children and carers and a review of best practices for autism intervention. We present experimental results pertaining to the agent's effectiveness, which show encouraging improvements for a number of children.