TEXAS - Milo is the therapy of the future. He a robot that helps children with autism learn about social experiences.
The Dallas-based company Robokind bridges the gap between children and teachers through Milo, who helps improve children's social skills. He is available in 26 schools across Texas.
"Kids on average only engage with their therapist 2 to 3 percent of the session, which is almost nothing, and with our robots, they are engaging 87 1/2 percent of the time,” said founder Richard Margolin.
More than a half million students in the U.S. are on the autism spectrum, and more than 50,000 live in Texas.
Autistic children often struggle to interpret social cues - like appropriate eye contact, and when and how to speak to others. This internal struggle can manifest as severe anxiety.
"One day when he comes home and self-realize, 'Dad, why doesn't anybody like me? Why do they think I'm weird?'" said parent Richard Brooke, who also works for Robokind.
Parent of autistic children can help their kids at home, but out in the world their children may be dealing with rejection from classmates.
Milo is designed to find solutions, like reading social dynamics, managing emotions, and even teaching basic interactions like saying "hello."
"We've had student who after their first interaction with Milo go home and say 'hi' to their parents for the first time,” said Margolin.
For parents, Milo is an endless well of patience that creates opportunities that seemed impossible before.
"I go, 'You are darn right you're going to college. You're moving out buddy and on to a better more exciting life,’” said Brooke.
State lawmakers passed House Bill 21 in the last session. HB 21 offers autism and dyslexia program grants for public schools. Districts that take advantage of the grant could have a robot for up two years.