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How robo-teachers can aid autistic children – Dr. Silvia Vianello speaks to The National


Dr. Silvia Vianello, Director Innovation Lab - Dubai Campus, SP Jain School of Global Management, has been featured in The National, the Middle East's leading English-language news service, in an article titled ‘Robo-teachers can aid autistic children in the UAE’ on 21st November 2018.

The article highlights that academics at the UAEU College of Information Technology in Al Ain have discovered that harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) can aid development as children “pay more attention to a robot" than a human. Researchers found that children on the autism spectrum responded better to simple instructions offered by robots, but their learning was often "inhibited' when presented with more complex ideas by a human face.

Sharing her views on the research findings, Dr. Silvia told The National that robots help students by maintaining eye contact and can engage each child by delivering research-based curriculum suited for them. “In combinations with human therapists and teachers, robots can help children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in moving from being withdrawn and isolated to laughing, dancing, and singing,” said Dr. Silvia.

She added, “Robots help them in holding eye contact and sustaining more complex social interactions, maintaining self-control and self-regulation when distressed, or over-stimulated. Human teachers should not be replaced by robots; instead, robots should enhance humans using the support of technology. A robot engages each child and delivers a research-based curriculum that helps develop understanding, practice and application of each concept. With the most advanced robots, it is possible to select individual lesson options in the preferred order.”

The article has appeared in the print and online editions of the newspaper.



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