A robot to revolutionize autism therapy in schools

by R. Danes

Milo is a two­foot tall robot that helps kids with autism overcome the social handicaps that characterize the disorder. Developed by Dallas, Texas­ based Robokind, the facially expressive, socially responsive robot breaks a lot of molds in children’s autism therapy.

Chief Technology officer and co­founder of Robokind, Richard Margolin, recently spoke about the challenges of training autistic children in traditional therapy at the Dallas New Tech event. Not only are human therapists quite expensive, regularly charging $100 an hour, they also tend to get very little social interaction from autistic children within a session. In an hour long session, he explained a therapist typically is able to interact socially with the child for only one and a half minutes of the allotted time. Kids working one on one with Milo are actually interacting with the
robot for 53 minutes per hour.

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An updated robot prototype.

Margolin said that feedback from schools and parents has thus far been tremendous. “We’ve had kids that have been in therapy for a decade and still were basically nonverbal, never made eye contact, and didn’t speak to anyone go home and say, “Hi,” to their parents for the first time after two sessions with the robot.”

Raquel Vincent
msraquelvincent@gmail.com

Raquel Vincent is a Dallas-based creative with a knack for words and inspired creative direction. When she's not working, you can find Raquel hitting a gallery opening, working on her book, or thrifting for unforgettable vintage finds. She loves music festivals, tacos, and her rescue cat Berlioz.