Professor Chung-Hyuk Park at GW’s School of Engineering and Applied Science is using a robot to help kids with autism learn how to navigate difficult social situations.
The basis of the research by Dr. Park is that kids with autism tend to bond with computers more easily than humans, so we can use this knowledge to help them learn how to regulate their emotions.
The robot encounters situations that kids with autism may have trouble handling, like loud music, bright lights or strong smells. The robot then tries to communicate what it needs to be more comfortable, such as asking someone to turn down the music, shut off the lights or move the pungent flowers to the other side of the room. The hope is that kids with autism will mimic the robot's behaviors, helping them to manage a social situation rather than struggle to communicate the problem.