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Interdisciplinary research meets communication breakthroughs

A child interacts with NAO, a robot designed by researchers at Ryerson to track the speech progress of children with ASD

Faculty of Arts professors Stéphanie Walsh Matthews and Jamin Pelkey, together with their interdisciplinary student team, are developing a better understanding of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and helping kids communicate – all with the support of a sociable robot.

The team’s research is aiming to understand the speech patterns of children with ASD. The tireless robot – NAO – is programmed with special education applications and asks questions, tells stories and plays games with kids. The kids speak to and engage with the robot and the results of these interactions are collected in a linguistic database to assess how well the robot works as a therapeutic tool.

The key to this groundbreaking study is the interdisciplinary approach. Every person brings something to the table – electrical engineering, psychology and cultural studies students are collaborating to come up with a robust solution that will provide a better understanding of ASD and communication.

At Ryerson, we break through disciplinary barriers to provide our students with experiences that make a difference in people’s lives.

Located in Toronto’s downtown core, Ryerson University offers full-time and part-time undergraduate and graduate programs, innovative learning opportunities, and a diverse and welcoming campus community.