In 2003, 1 in 250 kids was diagnosed with autism. Flash forward to 2018, 1 in 68 kids now test positive for placement on the autism spectrum. With these increasing numbers, people in the medical, educational, and technological communities have turned their attention to helping figure out how to help this growing population function to the best of their ability in this ever evolving and complex world.
One exciting innovation new to the education and technological community is Milo the robot. Milo is made by a company based in Dallas, Texas called robots4autism. Robots4autism’s vision is “using robots4autism, learners with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) IMPROVE their social and behavioral skills and GAIN the confidence to succeed academically and socially” **. With great passion and extensive research, robots4autism developed Milo. Milo is both a learning tool, and a friend to his learning partners. He has the ability to teach social cues, appropriate reactions and proximities, socially appropriate responses, some academic skills, and even have a dance party!
The curriculum guide’s Milo’s friend (student / participant) down many different pathways. Typically his friend starts out with an easily navigable lesson. The lessons then progress in both skill level and difficulty, pushing each friend to their best ability, all while staying calm and patient. While these lessons may become increasingly more difficult and complex, Milo never forgets to have fun!
One neat area of Milo’s role is to help teach proper social responses to situations, including facial expressions. Some people on the ASD have difficulties expressing appropriate facial expressions, making eye contact and reading other’s facial expressions in social situations. Milo helps with all these areas! Whether it be sad, happy, angry, elated, excited, frustrated, surprised, etc., Milo is able to display those emotions and ask his friend to mimic him. One really helpful tool of Milo’s is his built in facial recognition camera. This camera helps Milo read his friends facial expressions and analyze if his friend needs to go through a specific activity an additional time, or if his friend just needs a little more help practicing. The cameral also, obviously, helps gage when Milo’s friend is doing well and praises his friend accordingly. Dance party!
There are many more amazing features to Milo, including his super hero type build and his dance moves. Not to mention his incredible ‘Jimmy Neutron’ like hair. Most importantly, though, is Milo’s ability to make a true difference in his friend’s lives, and their ability to grow in the world as people, socially and academically.
For more info on Milo, please see the links below!
** Meet Milo! (2018, July 18) Retrieved from https://robots4autism.com/milo/