Kansas school tests robots with children who have autism

WICHITA, Kan. - A Wichita school for children with autism is experimenting with robots to help students improve their human interaction, physical skills and emotional behavior.

The Wichita Eagle reports the robots being used at Heartspring are programmed to dance, talk, recognize faces and speech and get up and calm themselves after falling and model appropriate greetings.

Director of clinical services Wayne Piersel says the hope is that children will transfer what they're taught by the robots to their interactions with people. Piersel says he's skeptical of fad approaches in autism, but that technology is especially attractive to autistic children.

Research on using robots with autistic children is scarce, but Heartspring officials say the nonprofit school's combination of pediatric outpatient services and on-campus housing makes it a good setting for testing.

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