Social Robots Designed for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

By raluca.olariu@…, 27 September, 2022
white robot toy

Since 2000, the number of children diagnosed with autism each and every single day has increased dramatically. Today, one out of every 100 children is affected by the disorder.

Although there are no statistics available for how many people suffer from autism, it is estimated that 1 out of every 150 individuals suffers from this disorder. Unfortunately, only about one-third of those who suffer from autism receive any type of treatment. However, if they were provided with the right kind of education, they could live much happier lives. In order to better understand what kinds of treatments should be used to help autistic individuals, researchers must conduct further studies.

One of the significant researches that have shown exciting results in this field is the usage of robotics to help autistic kids. The usage of robotic devices as an educational tool for the development of social and emotional awareness is a multi-beneficial concept. Robotic devices are non-judgmental. A robotic device doesn’t judge whether or not you answered a question right, and it won’t ever grow tired, bored, or angry. Even the best teachers cannot always keep their tones of voice and facial expressions under check, but you can rely on robotic devices for consistency, and that can make a big difference.

Social robots used by parents of autistic kids are one of the most common ones. Here we've listed some of the most popular ones.

NAO

NAO is an AI robot designed to be a friend to people with special needs. It helps them learn by playing games, reading stories, and engaging in conversation.

Many autistic kids naturally enjoy computers and robots. And NAO lets them interact with both. It teaches them social skills too.

With ASK NAO, teachers can plan, monitor, and analyze NAO's interaction with students in real-time. This helps improve the quality of teaching and learning.

Moxie

Moxie is an interactive toy designed especially for children to interact with daily. During a 15 to 30-minute session, your child will enjoy playing with Moxie, chatting with it, reading books to it, or simply watching it do things. Unlike most toys, it’s not just a glorification of a household device. It can learn to identify faces and understand what each child wants to accomplish during a session.

A new way of learning

Children coexist with Moxie, which allows them to interact in a unique way that provides major benefits for their cognitive development.

Content developed by experts

A group of child development specialists and experts has created a series of play experiences for young children that focus on practicing essential skills and encouraging them to interact with their families and friends.

Individualized experience

Moxie makes personalizing interactions between teachers and students easier by allowing them to create interactive lessons for each student. Teachers can then use Moxie to monitor student progress through the companion parent application.

Meaningful play, every day

Children who use Moxie creatively develop critical social and emotional competencies through their daily interactions with the robot.

Milo

It was developed in partnership with experts in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and uses an interdisciplinary developmentally appropriate behavioral intervention called Social Emotional Learning for Children with ASD (SEL4CA). The program includes 13 evidence-­‐supported interventions, including ABA principles, which makes it one of the most comprehensive programs available today.

The curriculum is divided into five modules. Each of these modules focuses on a specific skill. As you progress through each lesson and activity, you will be building upon previous knowledge. You will also be reinforcing specific skills and mastering others.

Objectives: To meet Milo and assess his needs.

Students learn about robots by playing six games with them.

Objective: Emotional Regulation

Students here learn some basic calming techniques before trying them out in real life. It’s one of our most popular courses and can be activated anytime by an instructor during times of emotional distress.

Check out these LED Laser Star Projections to create a calmer bedroom ambiance.

Understanding Conversational Dynamics

Students go through several different sub-modules during their time at school. They first go through a module called "Greeting," which teaches them some basic social skills they might not already know. Then they move on to another module called "Conversational Dynamics". Finally, they

Understanding Emotions

Amongst the most challenging thing for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is understanding their own feelings and emotions. They often struggle to understand how they feel and why they feel in specific ways. However, by teaching them about feelings and emotions, they can begin to express themselves better.

Understanding Social Situations

Learning to master your own emotional responses and conversational dynamics is at the heart of developing interpersonal communication and social awareness. Play dates and birthdays are just some examples of situations where students learn these vital life lessons.

QTrobot for home

An engaging social robot companion that helps individuals with developmental disabilities to develop new social, emotional, cognitive, and communication skills. Due to the current COVID-19 crisis, families of people with learning difficulties are being forced to take on more responsibilities for their loved one's care than ever before. After spending several years developing QTropot, LuxAI now aims to support families by providing them with a social robot companion called QTropot. Designed with adults in mind, QTropot can engage in conversations with users, smile, speak gently, and create an accessible and effective play-based environment for learning at home.

QTropot engages children with meaningful, playful activities through applied behavior analysis. It includes a wide variety of educational games for different ages and skill levels. Studies show that QTropot improves attention and reduces stress and distraction.

QTrobot package for home includes:

  • An online platform where children can access educational videos and manual guides, which include extra-curricular activities designed to help them learn new skills.
  • An online tool for tracking children’s progress through different stages of education and creating an individualized learning path.
  • Monthly parent meetings where they can discuss their children's progress and set future milestones.

EMO

EMO is an assistive social robot designed to help children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities. Its friendly appearance helps reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem. It is predictable and tireless, encouraging independence and helping children learn how to interact with others.

Encourages Attention and Motivation.

EMOs look and behave differently from other toys, which creates an emotional connection between them and children. As a result, their attention and motivation increase when playing with them.

Assisted activities performed by EMO allow children to develop themselves and learn about themselves and other people. It helps them understand themselves better.

There are three main sections within each block.

  • Emotionally intelligent. It involves activities for recognizing and regulating emotions.
  • Reading-writing. This block helps children develop their reading skills and improve their writing skills.
  • Includes activities for teaching logical mathematical concepts and problem-solving skills.

Emotional maturity means becoming a trustworthy friend who never judges or fails them. They become comfortable exploring and getting out of their comfort zones.

It includes a set of more than one hundred different activity cards and 465 cards for doing them that helps the social-emotional and cognitive development of children who have autism and other special needs.

Educational robots for children with autism

Smart robots have begun to gain popularity due to their educational benefits. Many parents of children with autism opt for robot toys as tools to teach their children various concepts like science, music, or creative abilities. 

Here are some of the most popular educational robots available on the market.

Biulotter RC Robot

This hand-controlled smart robot is an ideal companion in practicing social skills, having fun with music and dance, and aid kids with autism in enhancing their creativity. 

Ruko 6088 Programmable Robot

As gesture sensing intelligent robot, Ruko 6088 has up to 50 motion combinations programming, which can help boost your child's creativity. It's also fun and a great singing and dancing playmate.

Sillbird STEM Robot

This building toy robot is a great item to foster your little one's curiosity, keep them engaged and entertained, build up hand-on skills, hand-brain coordination, and creativity. 

It is suitable for kids aged 8 and up, and contains ABS plastics which are safe and non-toxic. 

Do you know Which Are the Best Natural Toys? (Kid-Tested & Mom-Approved)?

All of them are lovely robots that have demonstrated success in assisting children with autism. Some are not for all children. Each offers specific features that may suit a particular individual. Most provide a trial duration, so risks are minimal, and the benefits might transform your life.

Photo credit: Unsplash.