The Autism Center of Pittsburgh has teamed up with Interbots, Inc. to provide unique therapy techniques for children with autism. Interbots, Inc. is a spin-off company that is associated with Carnegie Mellon University.
Seema Patel, Co-Founder and CEO of Interbots, states that she has been constantly told that her robots could help make amazing strides in the field of autism research. Specifically, their robot called “Popchilla,” could help children with limited or no verbal skills at all. The name of this program is called “Character Therapy.”
Cindy Waeltermann, Founder and Director of The Autism Center of Pittsburgh, feels that robotic therapy is a better instrument to help communicate with children with autism because they have been shown to react better to non-human objects significantly better then humans. In this instance, the means is not important, but the end result is the most important. The goal is to bridge the gap between their world and ours.
Popchilla will be directed by a trained a therapist during the first stages of the program. The therapist will use a specially iPad application that will allow the therapist to direct the session. Ultimately, the program will transition to allow the children in the program to use the iPad program that helps identify emotions.
This innovative program is funded by Spark, a project by The Sprout Fund that helps children, up to the age of 8 years, engage in creative uses of technology. In time, Spark and the rest of contributors of this project hope to expand these technologies as far as they can and help more children who have autism understand our world and hopefully we can understand theirs.