Teaching robot helps kids on the autism spectrum

Posted at 6:23 PM, Dec 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-17 13:34:39-05

One of the most visible symptoms in some autistic children is their difficulty to communicate with others. Now, a Colorado program is hoping to change all that with the help of a non-human friend. 

"BiBli," a robot designed specifically to communicate with kids on the autism spectrum was introduced to Kane Ding, a Longmont 7th grader. Ding is part of the Robauto program, created by engineer and "Chief Human," Jalali Hartman.

“We found that kids would come and they didn't want to interact, either with each other or the rest of the group, but they loved to interact with the robot,” Hartman said.

Hartman added that kids like Ding are able to better interact with "BiBli" because robots are not as unpredictable as humans when it comes to communication.  

“Humans have a lot of extra stuff when they're communicating. They are kind of unpredictable. It ["BiBli"] helps them to know that they are not going to get in trouble, they are not going to say something wrong.”

The project is a collaboration between the Longmont Library, Robauto and the St. Vrain Valley Schools Innovation Center.

“[We’re] reworking what the classroom looks like, instead of being teacher-driven, student-driven,” said Axel Reitzig with the Innovation Center.

The goal is to mass-produce cheap and durable BiBlis and make them available to classrooms and libraries.

“I would actually like to grow up to be an engineer to make some robots,” said Ding.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 68 kids in the United States are on the autism spectrum.


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