How a Robot Helps Kids With Autism Communicate Better

Friends come in all shapes and sizes

Apr 27, 2017


How a Robot Helps Kids With Autism Communicate Better | Friends come in all shapes and sizes

Thanks to this inspiring French startup, robotics just got a lot more personable. Leka is a small, round robot that helps autistic children become better communicators and learners. The playful robot changes expressions on its screen (or face), utilizes light, sound, and colors to create customizable games, and can also display photos and videos.

Leka’s gentle demeanor leads kids through activities that help them connect to their surroundings and become comfortable interacting with other children or adults. The robot can be controlled by a parent or caretaker through Bluetooth, or can run autonomously. Leka, one part robot, one part confidence booster, was designed to become a trustworthy pal that evokes an excitement about learning through fun activities.

In some games, the child participates in identifying colors, while other times, the two play hide and seek, or match pictures. Like any good friend, Leka is supportive. During the activities, Leka provides positive stimulation (a happy face, or sounds of laughter) to encourage the child’s creativity and interest in learning. The cheerful bot tracks the child’s progress over time and parents or teachers can increase the difficulty of the levels.

Leka’s co-founder and CEO, Ladislas de Toldi, said the robot is especially unique and is a new way to get kids engaged and motivated." While many toys that improve cognitive development can cost thousands of dollars, Leka costs $700-800. Parents can receive discounts if they purchase the robot through the crowdfunding site. The creators hope to deliver Leka to schools and households by November 2017.

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Rebecca is passionate about reading, cooking, and learning about people doing good in the world. She especially loves writing about wellness, personal growth, and relationships.