Robots Helping Children with Autism Diagnosis and Treatment

robots treat children with autism

Technology is expanding at exponential rates. Smartphones are already making it possible for some children to communicate. But the world never stops turning and neither do the minds of researchers who study autism. The minds of Dan Popa and researchers at HansonRoboKind in Texas have created an intelligent group of robots who are already working with a small group of children with autism. Although they are still starting out, the researchers project’s diagnostic and clinical ‘abilities’ look promising.

These robots, Zeno, Milo and a few international versions can use synthetic voices to communicate with and instruct children in three modes with varying degrees of robotic autonomy. These modes can allow teachers and therapists flexibility when working with their student. The robot can grow with the child, but because it has the more advanced modes it is not limited to young children or by level of functioning.

The roots are able to interact and engage with children in a manner that doesn’t seem like work for the child. It was reported that children who had never spoken with adults felt comfortable talking with the robot.  The robot’s look in a photograph may be slightly imposing to some people, but knowing that the brain of someone with autism works differently, this might be an advantageous aspect as it may help the user distinguish the robot from a person.

What makes this family of robots appealing to the autistic community is their degree of non-verbal expressiveness that can set an example for children who may find a mechanical robot less threatening than a human teacher. At the time of this article’s publication the family featured had only had  preliminary sessions with the robot, but the mother was quoted as saying her seven year old was responding well to sessions and thus she is hopeful for the future.

The future does seem bright for these robots and thus the people with autism that may use them. The researchers seem active in improving their technology all over the world. IPhone’s Siri robot may soon be surpassed.

Melanie L. Reach, Wright State University

This entry was posted in Autism America, Autism Awareness, Autism Causes, Autism Diagnosis, Autism Education, Autism News, Autism Research, Autism Resources, Autism Therapy, Autism Treatment, Featured and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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