Children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have varying degrees of impairments in social interaction and communication. Methods for addressing these impairments often attempt to engage children with ASD in social activities that facilitate the development of basic social skills. However, it has often proved difficult to identify activities that are interesting and engaging for the spectrum of children of ASD. Children with ASD often respond socially and intellectually to simple robots and computers, but it remains to be determined whether such interactions can be harnessed to build communication and social skills. The present study will test whether existing robotic and computer technology can be applied for therapeutic use in the development of social skills in children with ASD. Dr. Narayanan will examine which factors influence the extent to which robot or computer simulations are engaging to children with ASD. A pilot study with autistic subjects will then be conducted to examine whether robots or computers may be used to facilitate communication and interaction with the family and peers of ASD children. For example, an engaging social character in the form of an intelligent robot may serve as a focus for shared attention and interaction with a teacher or parent. This study may enable future in-depth intervention studies of robot and computer-assisted therapies for communication and social skills for children with ASD.