Thanks to the generous supporters who enabled us to raise £8,843 to fund a second Robot and an upgrade for Steve!

Looking at an adult can be difficult, but our students are comfortable interacting with the robots.

Jamie with Steve the robot in classThe children and young people at Prior’s Court love Steve the Robot. We use Steve (named after founder Dame Stephanie Shirley) both in groups and with individual students. Each class uses the robot a few times each week for sessions up to 20 minutes and in that time can break down communication and social barriers that can be challenging for a young person with severe autism. A typical lesson might include starting with hello, choosing a song for the robot to sing, a learning activity and then goodbye.

It’s a great teaching tool for things like learning animals, colours and counting as it’s a great motivator. Some of our students even sing, dance and sign along to songs with the robot. It makes everyone smile to see their enjoyment!

Jamie’s (pictured above) eyes light up when Steve is placed in front of him.  He engages with it and calls it ‘my friend’.  When Steve raises its arms to let him know he has answered its question correctly, Jamie beams with delight.

Many of our young people have difficulty relating to others because of their autism. Looking at an adult and taking on board instructions can be difficult. However, they are comfortable interacting with the robot, developing eye contact with it and responding to its instructions, so it’s a vital tool to help build their social skills and facilitate learning,

says Sue Piper, Director of Education at Prior’s Court.

It promotes important social skills such as sitting in a group, waiting, choosing and communicating with others. Because the robot has no facial expressions to read, and its tone of voice never varies, it’s easier for our children and young people to interact.

Features of Steve the robotIn groups, working with the robot is a fun and effective way of helping our young people to understand about taking turns and engaging with others. Teacher, Nuno Guerreiro regularly uses Steve in his classes and has seen first hand the impact it has: 

The students, they love the robot, they love him moving, talking, dancing and singing.

The image to the left shows the many features of Steve and other robots like him, including the ability for Steve to act as a link between the human and technological worlds. He assists in teaching social and communication skills by positively stimulating students and providing positive feedback. He also has face and people perception recognition as well as full chat abilities so he's a valuable classroom companion for our young people. 

The below video features student, Jamie with Nuno using the robot in class:

 

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Young person testing interaction with 2 robotsWe’ve had Steve for two years now and it has brought huge benefits so we launched an Appeal to raise funds to enable us to buy a second robot to ‘work with’ Steve (£7,200) and to fund some important software upgrades to Steve to make it even more responsive to the specific needs of the students at Prior’s Court (£1,643). This makes a total of £8,843. 

Watch this space for updates on how the new robot and upgrades have helped our young people.