Assisting children with Autism with NAO

In an emotional account, a mother, known as Anya, yearned for seven years to share a heartfelt gaze with her daughter, Iliyana. Finally, the day arrived when Iliyana looked into her mother’s eyes, and tears of joy flowed freely.

Inspiring the Journey of Child-Robot Interactions

Anara Sandygulova, an associate professor at Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan, witnessed this heartwarming moment and was inspired to explore child-robot interactions. Her firm, April, developed a robot to assist children with autism, significantly impacting their lives.

The Role of NAO in Autism Therapy

Sandygulova’s company created NAO, a social robot designed to aid therapists and parents in engaging with children with autism. It has proven effective in therapy sessions by capturing the child’s attention, increasing compliance, and making therapy more enjoyable.

Tracking Progress and Parental Involvement

April introduced a web interface that logs a child’s activities with NAO, allowing parents to monitor progress and identify areas that need attention. This feature addresses a common concern among parents of children with autism.

A Journey of Research and Growth

NAO is the result of six years of research by Sandygulova and her team in the field of robot-assisted autism therapy. It incorporates evidence-based techniques and proven methodologies, enhancing the quality of therapy.

Expanding Impact

Currently operational in four centers in Kazakhstan, NAO plans to expand to 18 more centers by 2024, benefiting hundreds of children. Sandygulova also believes that NAO’s educational potential extends beyond autism therapy, making it a versatile tool.

The Unique Advantage of Robots in Therapy

Robots like NAO command attention and introduce a reward system that makes therapy enjoyable for children. They facilitate engagement and can be used for various educational purposes.

Potential Expansion to India

Sandygulova expressed interest in bringing robot-assisted therapy to India, where autism is prevalent. Approximately 18 million people in India are diagnosed with autism, making innovative approaches like this highly relevant.

Accessibility and Affordability

NAO, priced at $6,500, is designed for therapy centers but can also be used at home. Overcoming initial setup challenges, it offers a unique solution for families looking to bring the benefits of NAO to their children.

Addressing a Growing Need

In a country like India, where autism is a significant concern, robot-assisted therapy can be a game-changer. Sandygulova’s plans for expansion and willingness to adapt to local languages make this technology a promising option for families in need.


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