Kids with autism are special, where they will need to be approached differently in order to blossom into their full potential. However, have you ever thought about introducing a robotic touch to the situation? Take Luka for instance – he is a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which has been described to be a developmental disability which inhibits social, behavioral, and communications skills, while his ‘friend’ whom he loves to dance with happens to be a robot known as Rene.
Their paths crossed courtesy of a joint project of the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences and its Faculty of Electronics and Computer Sciences. This initiative intends to make use of robots so that it can improve the diagnosis and assessment of children who have the disorder, which is a highly complex and subjective even until now. The robot’s main purpose, of course, is meant to assist and not to replace the clinician.
Researcher Jasmina Stosic shared, “For children with autism, the robot is a stimulus that is very simple and always the same. Its eyes are always in the same place. Its mouth is always in the same place. People are rather complicated for such children because when we talk we make various gestures. And one day we’ll wear a red t-shirt and the next day, a blue one. The robot is one constant stimulus, and the children don’t need to think about so much different information and instead can concentrate on the essence.”