BRISTOL - Robot teachers may sound like something from a sci-fi movie, but according to Bristol company MOVIA Robotics, they are a revolutionary teaching tool for students with autism.
MOVIA Robotics is a robotics company that builds systems and software to help children on the autism spectrum learn using robotic technology. They are used in classrooms and at home, teaching children academics as well as life skills. They give individualized lessons that are tailored to the child’s needs.
MOVIA Robotics CEO Jean-Pierre Bolat said the robots help children with autism continue on their learning path and exceed their educational goals.
“With the use of robots, we can unlock some doors for these kids,” Bolat said.
Bolat said everything the company does is research-driven and that research has proved robots are an effective way of teaching children with autism. Robot-assisted instruction can lead to increased confidence, reduced anxiety, increased engagement and improved learning readiness. It can help children with autism achieve both educational and therapeutic goals.
“They don’t find it threatening; there’s no judgment, they’re kind, there’s no facial expressions or tone they can’t understand,” Bolat said.
According to Bolat, there have also been studies that show that having a three dimensional entity in a child’s own space teaching them a lesson is more engaging and effective than showing a child a video on a screen. It activates the brain in a similar way as when a person is teaching them. Robots are also useful in capturing a child’s attention, since they don’t usually see robots.
MOVIA Robotics was founded in 2010 by Timothy Gifford, a scientist, researcher and entrepreneur. He had the idea to focus on helping children on the Autism Spectrum while working at the University of Connecticut. He wanted to help his wife, an elementary school teacher in West Hartford, teach her students with autism more effectively.
The company has grown since then. Their robots are being used around the world in colleges, classrooms, therapists’ offices and homes. The company even has a contract to provide robots to the U.S. Department of Defense school system to assist military children with autism.
MOVIA Robotics’ website has multiple success stories of times when their robots have helped children with autism become more motivated and confident. In one case, a parent used the robot to supplement his son Jaxson’s virtual learning during the pandemic. Jaxson engaged more with the robot’s lessons than virtual learning, and he was able to practice social skills with the robot. After using the robot for a while, Jaxson said “I love you, Mom” for the first time. His dad thinks socializing with the robot helped him do that.
To learn more about MOVIA Robotics, visit moviarobotics.com or call 860-56-4797.