UK & World News

  • 8 November 2012, 9:29

Dancing Robots To Help Autistic Children

Robots could be introduced in classrooms across the UK to help children with autism.

The robots called Max and Ben are said to improve social interaction and communication skills for children.

Topcliffe Primary School in Castle Vale, Birmingham, has seen positive effects since their introduction in March.

The knee-high humanoid robots can dance to Michael Jackson's Thriller, play games and emulate Tai Chi.

They are being showcased by researchers at the University of Birmingham as part of the Economic and Social Research Council festival of Social Sciences.

The event is about using technologies to help children with autism.

Dr Karen Guldberg, from the University of Birmingham's School of Education, said: "We have been looking at how technology can support pupils with autism to communicate more effectively.

"Pupils and teachers are experimenting with the robots and other technologies in a developmental way and they are showing significant benefits for the classroom. The robots have been modelling good behaviour and acting as buddies."

Research shows that children with autism often find computers and technology safe, motivating and engaging, particularly in the areas of social interaction and communication.

Ian Lowe, headteacher at Topcliffe Primary, said: "The robots have been brilliant at supporting autistic children with their learning.

"You can program them to teach language, play games and model behaviour. We have even used them in assemblies. In the future we are looking to see if they can be used to support learning not just at school but at home as well."

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