Robot Helps Autistic Children Learn Social Skills
From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.
April is Autism Awareness Month in the United States.
Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder, is a complex developmental disability. It affects a person's ability to communicate and do things with other people.
Children with autism face many challenges.
For examples, schools can be a difficult place for autistic children. Many schools are filled with loud noises, active classrooms and nearly non-stop social interactions.
So, researchers in Britain have made a child-sized robot to help autistic children learn social skills.
The robot, called Kaspar, can improve their ability to communicate with adults and other children.
Dealing with Kaspar is easier for most children with autism than interacting with someone else. The robot uses games and songs to help the children learn social interaction and communication skills.
Ben Robins is with the University of Hertfordshire. He says the robot's movements are directed by an adult, who uses remote control equipment. So a teacher or therapist is always involved.
Robins explains that the robot gives therapists more ways to interact with autistic children. He adds that the children seem more at ease when they look at Kaspar's face.
"Sometimes they're looking into the face and they're eye-gazing with the robot much more than what they do with a person."
He adds Kaspar is flexible. It can change to meet the needs of the 170 children who have played with him over the past 10 years.
This flexibility is important.
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often have problems with spoken language and eye contact. But the signs of the condition can differ greatly from one child to the next.
The word "spectrum" is an important part of the definition. You might hear of a child described as being "on the spectrum." This means that tests showed the child has some level of autism. It could be minor or quite severe.
Alice Lynch works with an organization called Tracks Autism. She has been studying Kaspar's effect on students in the classroom.
Lynch says the robot has had a major effect on the behavior of the students. She notes there was one boy who could not eat with his classmates. But now after "feeding" Kaspar, he has begun to take part, or integrate himself, in classroom activities. For example, he now eats meals with other students.
"And then we started doing it with Kaspar and he really, really enjoyed feeding Kaspar, making him eat when he was hungry, things like that. And now he's started to integrate into the classroom and eat alongside his peers."
Ben Robins says research like this is important. It shows that what the child learns with Kaspar transfers to other situations or contexts in his or her life.
"This long-term study is very important, because it's important to see is there's any transference of these skills when they play with the robot into other context like in the classroom or at home; what's happened outside the context of the robot."
The Kaspar robot is still in development. However, its designers say their goal is to see every child who could benefit from the robot get their very own Kaspar.
And that's the Health & Lifestyle report.
I'm Anna Matteo.
1.social interactions 社交互动
Everyday, we have social interactions, and are exposed to people we don't know.
2.benefit from 受益于
I feel that women in all types of employment can benefit from joining a union.
3.eye contact 眼神交流
He avoids any eye contact, quickly averting his gaze when anyone approaches
4.take part 参与
We had the devil's own job to persuade him to take part.
1.Lynch says the robot has had a major effect on the behavior of the students.
had a major effect on 对...影响重大
He had a major effect on the lives of people around the world.
What seemed like an unplanned comment about Syria's chemical weapons had a major effect on world events this week.
2.He adds that the children seem more at ease when they look at Kaspar's face.
at ease 自在
He appeared embarrassed and ill at ease with the sustained applause that greeted him.
He always feels rather ill at ease before strangers.
自闭症也称“自闭症谱系障碍”，是一种复杂的发育障碍 。该病症会影响与他人沟通和团队合作的能力 。
例如，自闭症儿童难以适应学校的集体生活 。多数学校都比较吵闹、课堂气氛活跃，社交互动频繁 。
对于大多数自闭症儿童而言，与卡斯帕相处更加容易 。机器人利用游戏和歌曲帮自闭症儿童学习社交互动与沟通技巧 。
本·罗宾斯（Ben Robins）在赫特福德郡大学任职 。他介绍称，成人利用遥控器操纵机器人的一举一动 。因此，这离不开老师或治疗师的帮助 。
罗宾斯解释称，机器人为治疗师提供了很多与自闭症儿童交流的方式 。他还说，当自闭症儿童面对卡斯帕时，他们似乎更自在 。
他还指出，卡斯帕非常灵活 。过去十年里，它可以根据相处的170名儿童的不同需求改变自身 。
患自闭症（ASD）的儿童常会出现表达和眼神交流障碍 。但这种症状在每个孩子身上却千差万别 。
“频谱”是该术语的关键词 。你可能会听到‘一个孩子“处于频谱中”的描述’ 。这表明，这个孩子有一定程度的自闭症 。可能是轻微的，也可能非常严重 。
爱丽丝·林奇（Alice Lynch）在一家名为“自闭症迹象”的组织工作 。她一直在研究卡斯帕对课堂学生的作用 。
林奇表示，机器人对学生的行为有很大的影响 。她指出，一位男孩不愿意和同学一起用餐 。但给卡斯帕喂食后，他开始参与并融入课堂活动 。例如，他开始和同学一起用餐 。
“然后我们开始和卡帕斯相处，他真的很喜欢喂卡斯帕吃饭，当他饿了就喂它吃饭等等 。现在他开始融入课堂并且跟同学一起用餐 。”
罗宾斯表示，这项研究非常重要 。这表明，自闭症儿童把从卡斯帕身上学到的东西活用到他或她生活中的其他情境或环境中 。
卡斯帕机器人仍处于开发阶段 。不过，设计师们称，他们的目标是看到每一位从机器人身上获益的儿童都能拥有自己的卡斯帕 。