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Tool Or Toy: Robot Helps Kids With Autism Adjust To The World

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(CBSMiami) — Children with autism often struggle with social skills.

That’s something that can affect their learning in the classroom. But now teachers and parents at one Dallas school are getting some extra high-tech help.

This week, the kids at KIPP Truth Academy were introduced to Milo, the robot. He can move, he can dance and he’s cute. But he’s not a toy.

Milo is a new tool teaching children with autism how to work through social situations in the classroom.

“The goal is they learn these social skills and are then able to interact with other people,” said Richard Margolin of RoboKind, who spent three years developing Milo.

He can smile and frown as he interacts with students, and cane even help them with calm-down tactics like counting to 10.

Margolin said Milo’s consistent speech patterns and behavior repetitions are key for children with autism.

“When you bring technology into it, whether it’s Milo or something else, you end up with a bridge where it’s something they can engage with,” he said. “It’s something that’s less overwhelming to them.”

“Teaching me to calm down,” said Keenan, a first grader.

Keenan’s teachers said working with Milo has helped him at times, like when he answers a question wrong.

“I tried my best but I’m not sad,” said the boy.

“He’s developed this clear set of skills to help him understand, how do I work to lessen other people’s frustration with me, which has helped him not get frustrated,” said Principal Katie Hill. “Parents have just been so excited to see the development in their students, see their child’s ability to navigate unfamiliar situation.”

Milo is being used in 285 schools nationwide. The creators hope to expand to 2,000 schools by the end of the year. Milo’s creator says a priority was making the robot affordable for schools. The company is currently working on new robot characters to use with its curriculum.

[graphiq id=”aYPBFiFPx8V” title=”Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Medicare Population by County” width=”600″ height=”615″ url=”https://sw.graphiq.com/w/aYPBFiFPx8V” frozen=”true”]

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