The nature of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) presents significant challenges, especially with regard to comorbidities and drug treatments. Parents and caregivers are often hesitant towards psychotropic medications, mainly due to the fear of side effects. Problems arise when comorbid symptomatology reaches extreme levels, leading to functional decline in the patients. We discuss the case of a 13-year-old girl diagnosed with autism disorder who presented with a long history of social, interpersonal, and academic challenges. The patient was hospitalized with the complaint of a persistent, non-painful, and unpleasant sensation in the perineal area that eventually resulted in repetitive and compulsive behaviors. Robot-enhanced relaxation training was introduced to support the patient since she declined to undergo any form of talk therapy. The aim of the intervention was to prevent the irritation from escalating and promote self-regulation skills. The results, based on parent reporting, indicated that the patient acquired relaxation skills, experienced some positive effects on emotional regulation, and showed a decrease in the duration of her disruptive behaviors upon completing the relaxation training. This case report provides evidence that robot-assisted relaxation training may be effective in dealing with ASD-related behavioral disturbances and comorbid anxiety.
V. A. Nikopoulou, V. Holeva, P. Tatsiopoulou, V. G. Kaburlasos, A. E. Evangeliou, “A pediatric patient with autism spectrum disorder and comorbid compulsive behaviors treated with robot-assisted relaxation: a case report”, Cureus 14(2):e22409. doi:10.7759/cureus.22409