Thursday, June 28, 2007

Mobile toys for children with PDD

Characteristics of mobile robotic toys for children with pervasive developmental disorders, 2003, Michaud, F. Duquette, A. Nadeau, I. IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man and Cybernetics.

Abstract Pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) refers to a group of disorders characterized by delays in the development of multiple basic functions including socialization and communication. Symptoms may include communication problems such as using and understanding language; difficulty relating to people, objects, and events; unusual play with toys and other objects; difficulty with changes in routine or familiar surroundings, and repetitive body movements or behavior patterns. Autism is the most characteristic and best studied PDD. We are investigating the use of mobile robotic toys that can move in the environment and interact in various manners (vocal messages, music, visual cues, movement, etc.) with children with autism. The hypothesis is that mobile robots can serve as an appropriate pedagogical tool to help children with PDD develop social skills because they are more predictable and less intimidating. The objective is to see how such devices can be used to capture the child's attention and contribute to helping him or her develop social skills. This paper outlines the design considerations for such robots, and presents experimental protocols that are being developed to study the impacts of using these robots on the development of the child.

The paper reveals characteristics associated with children with autism and how a robotic toy should be designed considering these specifics. As a conclusion the authors state: "Engineers need to combine their expertise with scientists in the field of autism, in order to get interesting insights that will help guide the design of innovative new robots. The application describes in this paper is only one example of such rich source of multidisciplinary research. Our hope is that mobile robotic toys can become efficient therapeutic tools that will help children with autism develop early on the necessary skills they need to compensate for and cope with their disability."

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