Robots For Children With Special Needs

As per recent research, it is found that one in 160 children across the world suffers from ASD (Autism spectrum disorder).

What is autism?

Autism is a lifelong mental health disability that occurs when the child is young and it interferes with the daily functioning of that individual. The symptoms and degree of complexity may vary from child to child, however, there are certain common characteristics or unique traits associated with ASD. This lifelong disorder impacts the person’s social skills, communication skills, and ability to form meaningful relationships. Some of the symptoms include;

  • Unusual facial expression and gestures, also avoiding eye contact
  • Lack of interest in sharing or communicating with others
  • Prefers to be detached, alone, and in one’s own world
  • Finding it hard to understand other person’s point of view
  • Resists being touched • Speaking or humming in a specific rhythmic tone
  • Repetitive body movements (shaking arms, legs, flapping)
  • Clumsiness and awkward behavior
  • Has an exaggerated reaction to certain sounds & smells

Robots for Special Needs

Special children, feel lonely and can’t easily make friends in school. Living with autism can severely affect the child’s academic performance and leave them in a state of despair. Thanks to the advancement of technology in the UAE & all across the world, there are robots that are specifically built to support therapy and education for children with intellectual disabilities, including autism.

Social robots are programmed to express emotions and empathy which helps the child with special needs feel comfortable and thereby make the robot his/her ‘friend’. Children confide in their new buddy and return to the robot for help with academic tasks, while seeking emotional support.

These robots have a human-like design and a pleasant voice to tirelessly interact with the child, without passing any judgments or derogatory remarks. It even helps reduce anxiety & stress to a great extent.

Here are some popular Social Robots already available in the market:

NAO Robot

This is a fully-programmable humanoid robot that has performed wonders in the education space, for the special needs community. NAO has a human figure and its arms & legs function impressively, to captivate the attention of children & adults. Schools can integrate the curriculum into the robot’s software, to provide teaching aids to children who need extra help. Its operations are made-to-measure using NAOqi OS.

Misty II

Misty is a smart robot that is built to coach and deliver life skills to students. It has become a daily living companion and delivers academic content to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other special needs. Students quickly develop a bond with Misty and playfully engage in content that is of educative purpose. Most IB Schools in Dubai & GCC Regions, across the Middle East, who follow the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) approach, take the help of Misty II as it features STEM-augmenting accessories, apps, and content to enhance STEM education.

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Kebbi is an Educative Robot that uses AI (Artificial Intelligence) to make it more humanly, and less machine-like. Its intelligent software and hardware are designed to enable KEBBI to respond to facial expressions and body language as if one were communicating with a human being. It delivers personalized lessons to students and works well in the home & school environment. Its friendly personality provides heartwarming moments and enhances the educational experience manifold.

IPal Robot

This robot delivers educational content with its in-built WOZ Teacher’s Aid System through a robotic solution that enables capturing children’s attention and is especially beneficial to those with special needs like autism. The touch screen on its body can be used to display images and educational content, in an engaging manner, making the learning process more interactive. 

It’s time to unlock your child’s hidden potential, even if it means taking help of the above-mentioned robots. We are sure your little ones will bloom with special attention from their ‘bot friends’. As the saying goes, ‘If they can’t learn the way we teach, we teach the way they learn.’ – Dr. Ole Ivar Løvaas

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