RoboKind, a leader in social robotics, continues to develop curriculum benefiting children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports only 43 percent of children with ASD receive developmental evaluations by age three. Recognizing the benefits for early intervention, Octorara Primary Learning Center (PLC) has implemented RoboKind’s Robots4Autism curriculum with accompanying humanoid robot Milo.
“The scope of available lessons in Robots4Autism gives students the opportunity to practice critical skills, like making introductions and greetings, initiating conversation and identifying expressions,” said Amy Fichter, an autism training and consultation (TaC) provider with the Chester County Intermediate Unit, Downington, PA.
Milo, the interactive robot, delivers lessons from the research-based Robots4Autism curriculum. Modules include conversational skills, emotional understanding and situational practices for peer interactions. With a distinct range of facial expressions and natural body movements, Milo engages students through repeated behavior modeling and emotion recognition tasks.
According to Fichter, Robots4Autism is a strong fit for Octorara PLC because it encourages students to acquire social skills using Milo and independently generalize them outside of the autism support classroom. For example, when responding to an adult’s affective greeting, one student applied the correct body position, smiling and verbal greeting she learned with Milo.
At Octorara PLC, students interact with and learn from Milo in both 1:1 instructional settings and group settings. Each student has access to the curriculum for approximately 90 minutes each week.
“We’re pleased to see how well Robots4Autism is supplementing the autism instructional program at Octorara PLC,” said Fred Margolin, CEO and co-founder of RoboKind. “Early intervention is critical for supporting students with ASD. Octorara PLC is a model school for advancing the social ability of children with autism at an early age.”
Since introducing Milo to students, Fichter says her staff has seen an increase in the number of completed lessons within each session. Other benefits include a decrease in transition time and a decrease in the number of trials it takes students to complete each lesson.
Fichter plans to acquire an additional Milo to provide more Chester County district students the opportunity to obtain the same success her staff has seen with the initial group of students.
“Milo and the Robots4Autism curriculum have filled our classroom with laughter and smiles,” Fichter said. “We want that same level of excitement in all of the schools we work with.”
As an autism training and consultation (TaC) provider with the Chester County Intermediate Unit in Pennsylvania, Amy Fichter does her research when introducing new intervention methods to staff members. She is responsible for providing guidance and information on the topic of autism to all 12 of the Chester County school districts.
When acquiring humanoid robot Milo for K-2nd grade students in the autism support classroom at the Octorara Primary Learning Center (PLC), Fichter’s first measurement of student engagement was the amount of “smiles and laughter” that filled the classroom.
The Octorara PLC added one Milo to her intervention repertoire through a district grant application. Fichter and her colleagues chose Milo because of the robot’s distinct range of facial expressions, scope and sequence of its accompanying research-based curriculum, Robots4Autism, and the school’s emphasis on early-intervention.
Fichter’s purpose for introducing Milo was to extend opportunities for young students to not only acquire social skills using Milo, but also to be able to generalize acquired skills outside of the autism support classroom, independently.
“I wanted to provide an innovative, evidence-based approach to teaching,” Fichter said. “Milo immediately brought excitement and motivation to the classroom among both students and staff.”
RoboKind designs and builds a series of robots that enable people to engage with robots on a personal level. Through Robots4Autism RoboKind leverages these advanced social robots to supplement autism therapy and special education. The programs use humanoid robots that feature life-like facial expressions, natural social interaction and comprehensive curriculum to assist educators and therapists