Humanoid Robot Designed for Autistic Children, Success Already Noticeable!

Aldebaran Robotics has announced their Autism Solution for Kids initiative: ASK NAO. Aldebaran is among world leaders in humanoid robotics design and believes their newest addition to the robot family, NAO, is the “perfect bridge between human and technological worlds” for autistic children, whom often find communication easier with regimented structure that computer-based programs provide. At 2-feet tall, NAO is child-sized, and surprisingly full of personality. “He” can make a good companion, developing social skills and furthering education through games.  Aldebaran intends for NAO to be used as a teaching assistant in special needs classrooms. The robot is able to lead and participate in a variety of educational games aimed at developing verbal skills, non-verbal communication, emotional intelligence, and elementary academic skills. ASK NAO has been tested in three schools, one in England and two in the United States. The Moody Preschool in Massachusetts requested to beta test the program and reported that NAO was useful for inclusion classrooms, providing a social mediator that both typically developing children and those on the autism spectrum found engaging and exciting. The staff observed positive changes in attention span among the autistic kids in just a few weeks. One teacher asserted, “Some students who barely react to people had a great reaction to the robot.” Head teacher of the special needs program at Topcliffe Primary in Birmingham, England explained an aspect of NAO’s success with his students, saying “The robots have no emotion, so autistic children find them less threatening than their teachers and easier to engage with. Children who first come into school unable to make eye contact with humans start to communicate through the robots.” Topcliffe Primary has had two robots for over a year—Ben & Max. You can see a video of Topcliffe’s success with ASK NAO in this news feature.

Share your opinion on humanoid robots for autistic children here!

 

Gee, Sue. “NAO Works With Autistic Children.” NAO Works With Autistic Children. N.p., 5 May 2013. Web. 07 May 2013. <http://www.i-programmer.info/news/169-robotics/5837-nao-works-with-autistic-children.html>.

Nonverbal Autistic Teen Masters Written Communication & Advocates For ASD Education

 

 

 

 

If I told you a 16 year old wrote a book that is being assigned in university classrooms, would you believe me? Maybe. What if I told you that 16 year old is a nonverbal autistic?  Ido Kedar, a California teen with Autism Spectrum Disorder, has escaped the “solitary confinement”[i] of his body through mastering the motor skills necessary for communication tools like IPad apps. Ido is now able to express his feelings, opinions, and self-interest—insisting on inclusion in a regular education program and challenging experts’ assumptions about his condition. Ido describes the difficulty of his silent half-life saying, “It was terrible having experts talk to each other about me, and to hear them be wrong in their observations and interpretations, but to not be capable of telling them.” i

Ido advocates for integrated education through his blog and book, “Ido In Autismland,” and leads by example as an honor roll student. In his blog post Truth Over Theory, Ido describes his conversation with an open-minded professor as refreshing because, “more often, I think, people get used to their theories and stay there their whole professional careers.”[ii] Ido’s book has been assigned to college classrooms and is available on Amazon. In the personal statement of Ido’s Blog, he states his intent is to “help other autistic people find a way out of their silence too.”

Ido’s story was featured as an NBC News special, in which Ido was interviewed and able to respond via IPad, more articulately, in fact, than many people his age. The insight Ido has provided into the mind and condition of nonverbal autistics is monumental for the future of education and intervention strategies. Ido’s literary voice is unique and engaging—a true joy to read. Through his advocacy efforts and personal successes, Ido is altering the stigmas associated with autism. In an interview with NBC News Ido asserted,  “I want people to understand that not speaking is not the same thing as not thinking.”i

At Shema Kolainu, we believe all children have a voice. With understanding and support, we can hear the voices of all of our children too— whether through mediating tools like tablets, their own vocalization, or caring attention to the nuances of their behavior. Share your stories of communication barriers and successes here!



[i] Lin, Daisy, and Bruce Hansel. “Autistic Teen Uses Tech to Break Silence: “I Escaped My Prison”” NBC Southern California. N.p., 35 Apr. 2013. Web. 06 May 2013. <http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Autistic-Teen-Writes-Book-on-an-iPad–204775591.html>.

[ii] Kedar, Ido. “Truth Over Theory.” Ido In Autismland. N.p., 13 Feb. 2013. Web. 06 May 2013. <http://idoinautismland.blogspot.com/>.