Erie's Barber National Institute Using Robot To Treat Autism - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

Erie's Barber National Institute Using Robot To Treat Autism

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New technology is being used right here in Erie, to treat children with autism.
Robots at the Barber National Institute, are teaching children how to communicate.

A pilot study is now underway at the Barber National Institute, using state-of-the-art technology to teach children with autism.

"Brendan" is an interactive robot.
The Barber National Institute has teamed up with researchers at the University of Notre Dame, to use Brendan, to help teach children with autism how to communicate.
Researchers found that children with autism, seem to be more responsive to technology than humans.

5 year old Blaize Cheeseman, of Erie, has autism.
He's one of three other children at the Institute that are part of a pilot program, to see how effectively Brendan works.
That study has been underway for just over a month now, and so far, the results have been very positive.

"We've noticed an even higher increase in his desire to communicate. Not just with the robot but with other people, which is the bit goal of this research study." Said Blaize's father, Ellsworth Cheeseman.

"He has made significant progress, even in skills that we weren't really focused on. Joint attention skills have started to pick up and that wasn't even one of our target skills that we wanted to focus on (with Blaize), so that's very exciting." Said Jen Zona, a Behavior Specialist at The Barber National Institute.

"The real winners are the children and their families, because if the children can make progress, as we've seen with this young child who is one of the first in the pilot program, we can expand it to many, many many more children." Said Dr. Maureen Barber-Carey.

With these 4 children, the therapy sessions take place 2-3 times a week for 16 sessions.
Then another group of kids will start therapy with Brendan in the Fall. The research is expected to last 2-3 years.

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