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Robot Helps Schoolchildren With Autism Cope

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Children with autism struggle with social skills, and often with school.

But now there is a new high-tech tool that helps the kids learn – in the form of a human-like robot.

The robot is named Milo, and he has moves and skills. But as CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez reported, Milo is not a toy.

He is a new tool to teach children with autism how to work through social situations in the classroom.

"The goal is they learn these social skills and are then able to interact with other people," said Richard Margolin, founder of the company RoboKind.

Margolin and spent three years developing Milo. He can smile or frown while interacting with students, and help them with calm-down tactics like counting to 10.

Margolin said Milo's consistent speech patterns and behavior repetitions are key for children with autism.

"When you bring technology into it, it's something they can engage with it's something that's less overwhelming to them," Margolin said.

Keenan is a first-grader at KIPP Truth Academy in Dallas. His teachers said working with Milo has helped him at stressful times such as when he answers a question wrong.

"He's using his words," said KIPP Truth Academy Principal Katie Hill. "He's able to isolate what he's feeling or thinking."

Milo costs about $5,000, including the curriculum. The robot is not cheap, but educating a child with autism can run upwards of $20,000 a year – so if Milo can make that education more effective, then it is money well spent.

Milo is in about 285 schools nationwide, but the creators hope to expand it to 2,000 schools by the end of the year.

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