Technological advances have improved the quality of life for many, but in particular, have made huge impacts in the lives of individuals with autism. Apps, devices, and new advancements have allowed both children and adults on the spectrum to better communicate and understand the world around them. Most recently, researchers in Spain have focused on the potential of a robotic assistant in the emotional development of children with autism.
AISOY Robotics and researchers at the Universidad Miguel Hernandez have collaborated to explore the ways in which a robot can enhance therapy sessions at the University’s clinic. The multidisciplinary team of researchers utilized their knowledge in behavioral therapy as well as robotics to focus on new ways of incorporating a robot in therapy sessions, seeing the benefits that in can potentially bring to the child’s life. Three-way interactive tasks between the child, therapist, and robot were tested to see if there were improvements in social, emotional, and cognitive skills.
The robot works as an assistant to the therapist, as it can further exaggerate certain expressions, making it easier for the child to recognize and understand specific emotions, as well as clarifies how to react to certain situations. Further, the robot can propose specific games that target different skills. After utilizing the robot for some time, it is expected that the child will form emotional links to the robotic device, and the interactions will bring more socialization to the sessions. Researchers are aiming to extend the robotic assistant to therapy sessions for other neurodevelopmental and cognitive disorders, ranging from attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. The software developed for the
AISOY robot that has proven effective will be released in January, with a specialized ASD mode designed specifically for both therapists and patients. With their findings, the researchers and team at AISOY hope to spread awareness internationally about the possibilities of robotics in behavioral therapy.