Dr. Gil Tippy talks about Humanoid Robots to Treat Autism

8 May

This is a video of the beginning of the concluding meeting we had at Oakwood Academy in Toronto, after we went to help them with their efforts to work in the DIR/Floortime model. Kim Hirschberg, Rebecca School’s Parent and New Staff trainer, and I went to Toronto as part of Rebecca School’s outreach and community support. At Rebecca, we see ourselves as a community resource, and that community includes any place that wants to do appropriate, respectful, developmental work with children or adults with neuro-developmental disorders of relating and communicating.

We had done two days of direct work and coaching with kids, and we had done a parent meeting in a local high school gym the night before with a very enthusiastic and interested group of Toronto parents, and so we were tired. I got up in my little hotel room, to be greeted with a news story about a breakthrough treatment for Autism Treatment in Toronto. In my fatigue, and grandiosity, I imagined that the news channel had decided to cover my DIR/Floortime work in Toronto. Imagine my deflation with the subject of the news story actually came on.

I made light of it in my lecture to the group, but I actually think it is a little disheartening to imagine that research money goes to supporting children on the Autism Spectrum becoming even more isolated from their loving and warm families, peers and teachers.

2 Responses to “Dr. Gil Tippy talks about Humanoid Robots to Treat Autism”

  1. Deborah May 8, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

    This robot idea isn’t a new one. In the 1950’s, B.F. Skinner said:

    …we have every reason to expect, therefore, that the most effective control of human learning will require instrumental aid. The simple fact is that, as a mere reinforcing mechanism, the teacher is out of date. …
    An inexpensive device which solves most of the principal problems has already been constructed. It is still in the experimental stage, but a description will suggest the kind of instrument which seems to be required. The device consists of a small box about the size ofa small record player. On the top surface is a window through which. question or problem printed on a piper tape may be seen. The child answers the question by moving one or more sliders upon which the digits o to 9 are printed. ..”

    Skinner, B.F. (1954). The science of learning and the art of teaching. Harvard Educational Review, p. 310

    I think the really key questions here is how do we view the child and their potential, and what is learning really about? I happen to see kids as wanting to engage socially with families and learning communities, but needing the tools to do that. And I also believe learning is a very relational thing, driven by interest, relevance and future purpose.

    My two (autistic) kids have always loved computers and learned a lot from them, but I’ve seen my daughter absolutely blossom in the last year as we’ve taken a relationship-based approach in school and in the home. Her learning is meaningful to her because it’s in the context of her experiences, in the context of mutual enjoyment.

    So a computer isn’t bad in itself…but the ideas behind our decisions of how to work with our kids make a big difference in the outcome.

    • Gil Tippy May 9, 2013 at 10:10 am #

      Deborah,
      I love your comment! Computers are not evil, I am all over Google+, I try to keep costs down for families by doing FaceTime coaching of them with their children on their iPhones, and do net meetings all the time to bring helping teams together. I do, however, deeply object, to research money going to non-sensical genetic or robotic research, when families really need the financial support to get the interventions of their choice, that they know will work for their children. Thank goodness you found a relationship based approach to work for you child. Stanley Greenspan would have been proud!

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