Alexism: ALEXa supporting children with autISM in their oral care at home

Parvaneh Parvin, Marco Manca, Caterina Senette, Maria Claudia Buzzi, Marina Buzzi, Susanna Pelagatti

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperAcademicpeer-review


Oral health care can be a challenging experience for children with autism, for their parents and for dentists. Recently, some technology-enhanced systems have been proposed to help people with autism to cope with distressing situations originated by unknown social-life contexts, such as dental care settings with intense sound-visual stimulations. Results were positive in mitigating anxiety at the dental clinic but seem to fail in supporting proper oral hygiene at home. Thanks to the increasing spread of household Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPA) and Vocal Conversational Agents (VCAs), we envisage new opportunities considering the Voice-enabled IPAs not only as support on daily activities but also to enrich and simplify access to healthcare procedures from home. This work attempts to extend the use of technology-enhanced systems for dental care by exploiting the potential of the Vocal User Interface, Amazon Alexa, as an instructional agent with children on the spectrum. To this purpose, we developed a personalized Alexa Skill with two different functionalities: (i) support the child during the routine transition toward the target activity: move to the bathroom to brush their teeth; (ii) act as a persuader and a timer to guide the child during the procedure observing the proper brushing time. We conducted a three-week preliminary study with three children of different autistic profiles. The goal was to collect opportunities and issues deriving from the device introduction in the home context and test the device usage to favour dental care. Results and feedback were encouraging and gave insights to improve this approach.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Working Conference on Advanced Visual Interfaces, AVI 2022
EditorsPaolo Bottoni, Emanuele Panizzi
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
ISBN (Electronic)9781450397193
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2022
Event16th International Conference on Advanced Visual Interfaces, AVI 2022 - Frascati, Italy
Duration: 6 Jun 202210 Jun 2022

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series


Conference16th International Conference on Advanced Visual Interfaces, AVI 2022


  • Amazon Alexa
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • dental care
  • Intelligent Personal Assistants
  • personalization
  • vocal user interface


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