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Toward automatic motivator selection for autism behavior intervention therapy

Publication Date Sep 16, 2022


Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) usually show little interest in academic activities and may display disruptive behavior when presented with assignments. Research indicates that incorporating motivational variables during interventions results in improvements in behavior and academic performance. However, the impact of such motivational variables varies between children. In this paper, we aim to address the problem of selecting the right motivator for children with ASD using reinforcement learning by adapting to the most influential factors impacting the effectiveness of the contingent motivator used. We model the task of selecting a motivator as a Markov decision process problem. The states, actions and rewards design consider the factors that impact the effectiveness of a motivator based on applied behavior analysis as well as learners' individual preferences. We use a Q-learning algorithm to solve the modeled problem. Our proposed solution is then implemented as a mobile application developed for special education plans coordination. To evaluate the motivator selection feature, we conduct a study involving a group of teachers and therapists and assess how the added feature aids the participants in their decision-making process of selecting a motivator. Preliminary results indicated that the motivator selection feature improved the usability of the mobile app. Analysis of the algorithm performance showed promising results and indicated improvement of the recommendations over time.


Autism Spectrum Disorder Markov Decision Process Problem Individual Preferences Applied Behavior Analysis Motivational Variables Improvements In Academic Performance Academic Activities Reinforcement Learning Academic Performance Special Coordination

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No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors. The conception and design of the study, acquisition of data, analysis and interpretatio...

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