Dyssemic (socially-challenged) is a term that refers to kids that have trouble communicating their ideas with other people and expressing themselves in general. Autism is a subset of dyssemia and is considered a spectrum disorder, meaning that each child has different characteristics in the way autism affects them. More therapy at a younger age has been proven to reduce the effects of this disability; however, the cost and availability of good therapists is always challenging. The use of robotics is an ideal method to combat this challenge.
The goal of our project was to develop an economically feasible robotics platform to engage dyssemic children and aid them in their everyday lives. This goal extends to empower parents to provide additional play therapy sessions for their dyssemic children using robots. Throughout the course of our project, we compared low-cost retail robotic platforms from Lego Mindstorms and Parallax in different configurations to see what would be the most economically friendly. In addition, we conducted observations of dyssemic children to help create a set of games that can be programmed into the Parallax platform.
Our project was entered into two science and engineering competitions this year. We first competed at the Synopsys Sacramento Regional Science and Engineering Fair. At this fair we won the Third Place Award in Engineering as well as the US Navy Special Award. We were also selected to represent the region in Genius Olympiad, an International Fair in SUNY Oswego, New York. At this competition we won a Gold Medal that is awarded to only the top 10% participants. We would like to thank Andy Lindsay of Parallax for his valuable guidance when it came to programming the games of the robot.
TheraPlay – Creating an Engaging Robotic Platform for Dyssemic and Autistic (ASD) Children