Robotics Starter Kits for Kids with Autism
Robotics Starter Kits for Kids with Autism
In recent years, people have grown more aware of the needs of children and adults that fall on the autism spectrum. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every 68 Americans has autism. The spectrum is vast and no two people diagnosed with autism will exhibit exactly the same symptoms. However, some of the most common solutions include trouble making eye contact and difficulty reading people’s emotions.
Now, scientists, teachers, and parents are teaming up to make robots part of the solution. Many professionals feel that introducing kids to robots will serve as a gateway for kids with autism to begin to understand human emotion in a low-stress environment.
Using this advanced robot technology, kids with autism are able to simultaneously develop their motor and social skills at the same time they learn about STEM concepts.
Here’s just a few of the robotics starter kits for kids with autism that are making a splash today.
For kids who specifically struggle with reading human emotions, Robots4Autism's research-based robotics starter kit, Milo, may be the perfect solution. Milo humanoid robot works with elementary and middle school students to better recognize and express common human emotions. Milo speaks at a rate 20% slower than the average human, therefore aiding in comprehension skills among children with autism.
In comparison to other methods of autism therapies, kids who use Milo robots produce a 70-80% attention rate, whereas other methods of therapy produce just between 3-10%.
This robot has a specific goal of making children comfortable while also pushing them to step beyond their comfort zones to improve behavioral and social skills.
Aldebaran Robotics has developed a two-foot tall humanoid robotics starter kit specifically for kids with autism. This robot interacts with kids to elicit a response based on social and behavioral situations. When kids answer correctly, they’re rewarded, and when they answer incorrectly, they’re encouraged to try again. The robot’s development has been based on such systems as ABA, PECS, TEACCH, DENVER, SCERTS behavioral models. Teachers and therapists can even adjust settings to reflect students’ learning goals, personality, motivators, etc. Nao is voice operated.
The French company behind NAO has also developed ASK (Autism Solutions for Kids) to promote robotics in the classroom and individually with therapists for kids who have autism. NAO has three main objectives. First, to make learning interactive and fun for kids. Second, to engage students attention and keep them interested. Third, to make software and hardware adaptable to kids and their environment, so that it can be used as easily in a group setting as individually.
This humanoid robot starter kit gives children with autism an exciting opportunity to interact, play, kick a football around, all while developing the child’s social skills. Designed by Chung Hyuk Park, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at George Washington University, Darwin-OP2 gives kids the advantage of interacting in real social settings without the added pressure confusing social skills or unreadable vocal intonations.
Many parents have remarked about the robot’s range of motion and interaction capabilities that have brought out new social skills in their child. Through positive feedback, kids with autism who interact with their Darwin-OP2 can begin to pick up on acceptable social cues and public behavior.
Leka, a robotics starter kit to premiere later this year, assists not only kids on the autism spectrum but also kids with Down’s syndrome and other disabilities. This simple ball-shaped robot has a primary goal of assisting kids with motor and social skills.
The games included in Leka use visual aids to stimulate kids’ learning. Some of these games include Picture Bingo, Hide & Go Leka, Traveling Leka, and Remote Control Leka. Leka realizes no two kids with autism or other learning difficulties are exactly the same. That’s why parents and therapists are able to adjust play for the level and guidance each child requires. As a child progresses in their activity, their progress will be stored so they can pick up where they left off next time.
Robots for kids with autism come in all shapes and sizes. Buddy, from Blue Frog Robotics, uses apps to get kids with autism and other learning or social disabilities to interact with a human-like being like never before.
Buddy is not only for play but also helps kids accomplish simple daily tasks that can become more complicated for kids with autism. When it’s time for kids to eat, Buddy will tell them to wash their hands. Then, on a large screen that appears as the face of the robot, step-by-step instructions about how to wash hands will appear on the screen. Kids will then be rewarded with positive reinforcement, Buddy dancing when the task has been completed correctly.
For kids on the extreme end of the spectrum, this robot can help them make great strides in their daily independent activities. The monotone voice and regular routine that Buddy exhibits give kids added comfort in carrying out the tasks.
Robots are making a big mark on the diagnosis and therapy available in today’s world for children and adults on the autism spectrum. Whereas the traditional therapy setting of a single therapist and child alone in a room may have been overwhelming for many children with autism, when robots are thrown into the mix, new possibilities abound. Kids have the opportunity to comprehend communication and instructions in a new way, they’re able to pick up on a reward system, interact in a socially acceptable manner, and accomplish important daily tasks, all in a comfortable setting. As kids with autism perfect social scenarios with their robots, they’ll also be interacting with the STEM world in a whole new way.
Beyond social and motor skill development, who know what interacting with robot starter kit frequently at a young age will mean for these kids’ future in terms or personal interests and academic and career paths?