Autism Spectrum Disorder is an ailment that affects one in nearly 100 children. Such kids experience learning difficulties primarily due to their inability to focus for extended periods and anxiety in social interactions. Fortunately, robotics has answers to the problems parents of autistic children face. There are many advantages of employing a robot at home to help your kid deal with this problem.
Being a parent to an autistic child is not easy. Kids with autism have problems understanding social and emotional cues. They become anxious whenever they get into social interaction and can’t focus their attention because of the unpredictable nature of human conversations. It makes it challenging to engage with them and work collaboratively in a team meaningfully. This disability then delays cognitive, emotional and social development in a child.
Thus, autistic children have special needs and need a different kind of education that acknowledges those learning difficulties.
However, autistic children are also known to show flashes of brilliance in activities that will not place them in a situation of having to collaborate with others and activities that have more predictability. They can work efficiently with technology, using mobiles and laptops. These activities do not make any social demands on the child and are more consistent and predictable. It points to the potential of using tech to promote better learning and engagement in kids.
Robots for Autism
The main advantage of robots for learning in autistic children stems from the fact that robots can perform specific tasks, repeat similar behaviours consistently, and generate predictable responses. A child with autism thus perceives this bot as less intimidating than an unpredictable human. It reduces the level of anxiety the kid face, promotes better focus and helps the child learn better.
The use of robots as an assistive tool is still developing, and many parents are still unaware of the advanced tech tools autistic kids can access that will deliver long-term benefits to them. Robots, being machines, are non-judgemental. It is free from emotions and will never get sad, bored or angry. They remain the same and display the same behaviour and tone, which keeps the child comfortable.
Most of these droids are affordable, easily accessible, effective and come in a size that parents can easily keep at home and take advantage of robots in the child’s learning. Plus, one more advantage of these robots are they are embodied and hence promote more engagement and better results than an app or a tablet.
For instance, a robot named QTrobot interacts with kids and their caregivers, where the kid follows the instruction delivered by the bot to build something – say a house. During the interaction, the bot maintains eye contact, and its body is oriented towards the child, improving engagement. It is also programmed to deliver pleasant facial expressions. The droid also constantly offers feedback during the process, boosting the child’s comfort level.
How robots help children with autism
Here are how robots can benefit kids with autism.
Robots help children in improving engagement. Robots maintain eye contact with the kid and engage with the child in such a way which elicits good response and attention. The robots are also emotionally consistent and non-judgemental, increasing the child’s engagement.
Joint attention with the caretaker
Most autism robots foster collective learning where the caretaker and child participate in the robot’s learning activity. The bot acts as a mediator of joint attention between the caregiver and the child and forms a collaborative triangular connection between the three.
This form of learning differs from learning via smartphone or tablet as it is much closer to human-to-human interaction.
When children with autism engage in social interaction with humans, anxiety gets triggered, and they try to distance themselves from the conversation.
Since robots behave repetitively and predictably, it doesn’t trigger anxiety. On the other hand, kids can also continue interacting with the bots for more extended periods than with a human.
Greater Motivation to Learn
The bot keeps encouraging the child to find the correct answers during the learning process. These positive reinforcements act as a motivation booster to learn. Similarly, kids tend to collaborate with droids and work on challenging tasks more than their human caregivers.
Free from human limitations
One unique advantage of robots is that, unlike humans, they never get tired or frustrated. Robots can work continuously and perform repetitive tasks. So, the robot, once programmed, can be used to take as many sessions of the same quality any number of times. Robots increase the efficiency of work allowing the kid to practice the lesson as often as they want.