New Robotic Platform for Rehabilitation of Children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders and Cognitive Impairments
The incidence of Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) in children is in the range of 30-60 cases per 10000 [Rutter 2005]. PDD is a group of complex developmental brain disorders, that affects the way in which child perceives the world and it makes communication and social interaction difficult. Cognitive impairments are often present in PDD and they can manifest as learning disabilities, concentration difficulties and problems in mental functions. These impairments lead to severe difficulties in social interactions, communication, motivation and restricted interests.
Recent research has showed that objects, as robotic toys, are effective in improving basic skills of children with PDD. The developed robotic systems were tailored towards becoming a social mediator, empowering children with disabilities to discover the range of play styles from solitary to social and cooperative play. Play that uses a robotic platform as a central element to engage a child in a playing activity inserted in a well structured teaching programme should help to develop or improve some basic skills necessary to start social interactions and in this way it would prepare the child for the situation which requires him/her to enter into the social interaction with an adult. Play should become the intermediate step in which a child with PDD can practise and experiment skills necessary for the interaction with a person who is close to him and later these skills could be transferred to other situations.
The aim of RODDI project is to develop an innovative robotic platform for rehabilitation of children with PDD and cognitive impairments and to use it in a structured teaching programme to improve childrens functioning considering: i) improvement in symptoms; ii) improvement in children social relation skills.
The expected results are:
a) the development of the robotic play platform and assessment protocol. We expect that the robotic play platform will work as an instrument to engage children in activity of playing first, being attractive to children and second, responding to their needs and respecting their strengths and difficulties; it will stimulate different senses; will help to develop some basic skills; and will lead a child to social interaction.
b) improvement of children basic skills and interaction with others.
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