4RoBOTSA STEP TOWARD THE FUTUREFOR CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS‘‘‘‘WE’VE ONLY SCRATCHED THE SURFACE, SO FAR. THERE ARE SO MANY AVENUES AND ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES FOR CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS.STEVE STOFFREGENDirector of MISHe can greet you. He can dance. And he can make a room full of people laugh. He’s friendly, talkative and technologically advanced. He’s also programmed to be that way. Who is he? The NAO Humanoid robot —created by Aldebaran Robotics in France. The robot is the organization’s newest learning tool and subject of several research initiatives. The main goal of the research is to see if the robots can provide assistance in educating children with autism in various environments. Oftentimes, children with autism respond well to technology, making the robot a presumably ideal candidate for social interaction. As we continue to measure and analyze research data, Heartspring hopes to incorporate the use of advanced technology, like the robots, into therapies and programs throughout the organization to create the most effective learning environment possible. 4
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