June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Cooperative & Experiential Education
This service learning undergraduate research project focuses on the use of humanoid robots to increase the effectiveness of therapy of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Engineers often focus on industrial applications for robotics and automation. This project allows the engineering student to learn that the skills they are learning in industrial robotics can also be applied to societal problems in the community and provide ways to give back to the community. One in sixty-eight children are diagnosed with some level of autism, with the most common treatment being Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). While ABA is an evidence-based approach, the learning process is time consuming, and it is not uncommon for an objective to take months, if not years, for a child to master. Two important consequences of this are the financial costs and the closing “window of opportunity,” as therapy is often most effective in the younger, formative years. As an aid in improving ASD therapy, robots have been developed over the past decade, with noted potential for their use as “co-therapists.” However, two major barriers to wider adoption of robots in therapy are the intensive programming requirements of the robots and the limited “off-the-shelf” programs available to clinicians. This paper describes a pilot project with the aim of enabling therapists to use the advanced technology of robots by eliminating these barriers through (1) the adoption of an intuitive and adaptable programming platform (Nao humanoid robot) and (2) development of an initial template program for the area of early language-communication.
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