Iris is a very peculiar girl. With 5 years still does not speak, beyond a few words, and has a difficult time socializing, even with people who are most dear to him. She seems to be always self-absorbed, self-absorbed, and, in fact, she finds it practically impossible to focus on anything that happens around her, even if it is a game that would have delighted any other child. Except when you paint.
Iris was diagnosed at age two with an autism spectrum neurological disorder (ASD), a disease still poorly understood that, among other things, impairs social interaction and communication and a very restricted and repetitive repertoire of behaviors. In some cases, like that of Iris, however, autism confers on those who suffer extraordinary abilities in other facets of life.
Iris has an exceptional talent for painting. In a very short time he has reached an understanding of the colors and their interactions in a canvas that go well beyond the ones of a boy of his age and, according to many art critics, remember even the most mature Monet. But the most important thing is that when painting is able to focus your attention, even for continuous periods of more than two hours.
It is often argued that these children with ASD (autistic spectrum disorder), early and often hyperrealistic artists, owe their extraordinary abilities to the fact that they are incapable of forming concepts. They have an unusual perceptual ability that allows them to look at a complex scene and mentally segment it into each of its fundamental components. This bias towards local processing is characteristic of virtually all children diagnosed with ASD, not only those with high artistic abilities, but it is extraordinarily uncommon in children who follow a normal course of development. And this could be one of the causes of its symptomatology; their inability to abstract themselves from details would prevent them from combining information in an abstract way, would prevent them from thinking conventionally and relating to their peers and the world in general.
For the time being, there is no cure for autism. However, Iris art has helped her progress in an unthinkable way just a few months ago. But Iris is not the norm. Many children with ASD have a major affectation and do not present their skills or interest in art. Juan was diagnosed with ASD at the age of two and, like Iris, stopped talking, playing and interacting. Without the crutch of art, Juan was worse and at six he was completely enclosed in himself and had developed an unreasonable aggressiveness. Until her mother, already desperate, heard of a therapy with robots that was able to foster creativity, stimulate emotions and improve communication.
These robots, unlike people, have simple and easily segregated patterns of behavior. They are able to speak but follow simple speeches, perform head movements and even have facial expressions but are easily identifiable individually, and children with ASD seem to have no difficulty interacting with them. After a time of therapy with the robot, Juan began to leave his isolation, interacts with the robot touching him, laughing and repeating his words, and this improvement has been seen to transfer to his daily life, improving his vocabulary and his relationship with others.
Robotics may very soon be an essential tool for learning and developing children. Not only will robots dream of electric sheep.