Will a robotic penguin revolutionize ABA therapy?


By Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D

Founding Editor, bSci21.org

According to the Brown Daily Herald, researchers at Brown University are hard at work developing a robotic penguin to aid the assessment and treatment of autism for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) programs.  Dr. Molly Tracy, Assistant Professor of Neurology stated “one thing that people with autism have in common is difficulty with social interaction and eye contact…so the robot can help detect the disorder by observing groups of children and screening for abnormal patterns in eye contact and other physical behavior.”

The team believes the robot, named PABI (Penguin for Autism Behavioral Intervention) can aid ABA programs by potentially cutting down on the intensive nature of such programs, commonly in excess of 20 hours per week. The penguin, they say, “may cut down the time and high cost associated with this treatment by running some of the programs with the child.”

PABI is currently being tested in a Massachusetts elementary school.  However, the specific ways in which PABI runs programs, and provides reinforcement to children’s behavior, was not made clear.

Please check out the full article and let us know if you think PABI will revolutionize ABA therapy in the comments below.  Also, be sure to subscribe to bSci21 vie email to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is President of bSci21 Media, LLC, which owns bSci21.org and BAQuarterly.com.  Todd serves as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management and as an editorial board member for Behavior and Social Issues.  He has worked as a behavior analyst in day centers, residential providers, homes, and schools, and served as the director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Todd’s areas of expertise include writing, entrepreneurship, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, Instructional Design, Organizational Behavior Management, and ABA therapy. Todd can be reached at [email protected].

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