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US company unveils robot to help autistic children

US company unveils robot to help autistic children

A US robotics manufacturer has unveiled a humanoid robot designed to help improve social and emotional skills in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

US company, Robokind, presented a robot named Milo during the National Press Club conference in Washington on Wednesday, saying it had been built with the aim of interacting with elementary and middle school children with ASD.

Milo is capable of verbal communication and equipped with a set of 32 facial expressions, the robotics manufacturer said.

Studies showed that children who first interacted with Milo are subsequently more open and responsive with humans.

“Our research found that children with ASD are more engaged with Milo, than the therapist, especially when it is a robot led condition, especially when the robot is giving a child and describing social information to the child. And children who are more engaged learn better and this is really good news for our children with autism,” said Associate Professor of Communication Disorders at the University of Texas Pamela Rollins.
The friendly-looking device (pictured below) also plays videos and music to the children, as well as provides data helping to monitor the progress of the therapy.

Autism disorder symptoms

Autism is characterized by three distinctive behaviors, difficulty with social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors or narrow and obsessive interests. Impaired social interaction is the most atypical feature.

Autistic children develop normally at first but soon become isolated and avoid social engagement. As early as infancy, they are often unresponsive and pay special attention to a single item for long periods of time. They do not respond when they are called by name and fail to establish eye contact with others.

The prevalence of ASD has increased ten-fold in the United States in the past 40 years, with an estimated 1 in 68 American children affected by the disorder.