Researchers enlist robots to help autistic children

Posted by Lydia Leavitt

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have enlisted a specialized "Nao" robot to help teach autistic children.

 As assistant professor of psychology Dr. Joshua Diehl explains, autistic children typically respond positively to technology-based interactions.

Nevertheless, the robot is programmed to teach  children critical skills to help them better interact with humans as well.

"We're really excited because it's not just communication with the robot that's improving, we're also seeing some improvements in interactions with others and with their therapists," said Diehl.

Similarly, TG Daily previously reported about a video game designed to help teach autistic children communication skills, proving there is significant interest in using technology to better teach autistic children.

Diehl says his mission is to find ways for humans to better teach and interact with autistic children.

"What we really need to know is what sort of treatments are going to work. What are the best treatments and who will they work for," he said.

The Notre Dame researchers are currently applying for federal and private grants to further fund the project.

"This is somewhat of a culmination of our continued quest to continue to be right at the true cutting edge and doing the very best that we can to help our children with autism," explained Dr. Maureen Barber-Carey, the executive vice president of the institute.

Collaborators on the project hope to see specialized robots in classrooms as early as this fall.

(Via WBIR)