In the first part of this blog post we discussed what autism was and the scale of the affect of autism on our world. I will just mention again, I am no expert, just a layman with an interest, so these are my views and opinions. They may well be wrong in places but today we will get into the meat of the discussion, Why Use Robots with Autistic Kids?
Firstly, an observation: Many children affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder seem to be drawn to technology.
I have seen this discussed and commented on in a number of places on the internet but I have also observed this myself. I met a family with a 12 year old son who has been diagnosed with autism. In the afternoon we spent together, (we were at a Nao development event as his Dad is also a member of the Nao Developer Program), I noticed that he was most content when playing on his iPad. So surely we can use this natural attraction to technology to help autistic children?
Well, there are mixed opinions about this. Haifa University Professor Tamar Weiss, a leading expert on the use of technology in autism research, said, in a Times of Israel article;
“Kids are attracted to technology, and computers and devices like iPads can appear to help draw autistic kids out of their shell, but sometimes that attraction is not a good thing. Kids with autism ignore social interactions, so they often feel very comfortable with computers, because using them is a singular activity. They can sit with an iPad for a whole day and never look up even once.”
Weiss continued that the real trick was to leverage the attraction to technology into an activity to make the child more social.
Enter our robot friends, or more specifically, enter our humanoid robot friends.
Posted: 09/05/2013 21:11:41
Since I have posted about my Nao work with autism and Aldebaran Robotic's launch of their ASK (Autism Solution for Kids) Nao community, a number of my friends have asked what use are robots to autistic kids and how are they used.
Well, firstly a disclaimer. I am no expert. I have been lucky enough to be accepted onto the Nao Developer Program, and then doubly lucky that some of my Nao programs have been useful to the Autistic community. This has enabled me to be involved in something truly amazing, something that has actually changed people's lives and, as it grows, will help a lot more. So this is a layman's view, probably wrong in places, but it a snapshot of my current view of this area and my limited understanding.
What is Autism?
Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is described by The National Autism Society of the United Kingdom as:
“....a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people and the world around them.
It is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain areas of difficulty, their condition will affect them in different ways. Asperger syndrome is a form of autism.”
Posted: 07/05/2013 21:52:46
After what seems like an age I have finally been able to escape the pressures of work and start to focus some time back with my Nao. Thankfully this has coincided with the launch of Aldebaran Robotics' new initiative to help autistic children, Ask Nao.
As some of you will know, I became aware of this work when I created a kid's game for my nephew Thomas, that let him play a flash card game with Nao that was about identifying farmyard animals. This was modified by Aldebaran as part of their autism behaviors and has been incorporated into their Autism Session Manager program, which is part of Ask Nao.
So what is Ask Nao?
Ask Nao is Autism Solution for Kids, but lets let Aldebaran explain it a little better than I can:
Posted: 01/05/2013 12:51:27