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Writing Assignment #4
White Paper for an External Audience
Summary of the Assignment:
• Task: In this paper, you will write a document that provides information that an external
audience can use to inform a decision.
We have read various white papers in the class this semester. White papers can be any
one of the following types:
o technical papers
o business benefit papers
o advocacy papers
o hybrid technical/business papers
The CANRIGHT document that is provided in the class in LEO describes all four of
these types of white papers.
• Length: 1200-1600 words
• Graphics: at least three graphics, two of which have to be original
• Format in Citing and Listing Sources: APA
• Number and Sources: at least five sources, at least one of which has to be obtained
Brief Description of the White Paper:
In preparing for this assignment, you will want to review the following video:
“White Papers: An Introduction to the Genre and Its Expectations,” from the Purdue OWL
You may take any of the following approaches:
• a general white paper to an external audience – written to individuals in a particular
industry or field of study, but not an organization you are a part of. The white paper
could address a problem you are attempting to solve in the organization or to inform an
external audience about a relevant trend.
• a white paper promoting a new product or service to potential customers. This is an
example of a white paper to an external audience, but it features different rhetorical
considerations than the typical white paper written to an external audience does.
Both options are discussed in the Purdue OWL video mentioned above. Please note: You will not be writing a white paper to your boss or to superiors in the
company for which you work.
That type of paper would be an internal white paper. If you take WRTG 394, you can
write that type of paper. For WRTG 393, we ask for a white paper to an external audience.
Strategies to Consider for the White Paper:
Please follow these guidelines:
• have a focused topic. Please see the sample white papers from previous students for
examples of how previous topics have been developed for this paper.
• write to a reasonably focused and identified audience
o A white paper to an external audience can have a broad audience or a narrow
▪ For example, if you do not work for a hair salon and you write a white
paper promoting a new billing system for hair salons, the audience will
probably be the various hair salons in your neighborhood.
o A white paper that promotes a product or service to potential customers could
have a fairly broad audience.
▪ For example, a white paper promoting a new taxi service in your
neighborhood has, theoretically, all residents in the neighborhood as a
• integrate thorough research
• do not directly tell the audience what action it should take. Rather, offer background
information that the audience can use to make a decision. The Purdue OWL video
mentions this principle. This is one reason the video refers to the white paper as a
Continue to the next page How to Organize the White Paper:
Please include the following sections in your white paper:
• Executive Summary
• Previous Approaches
• New Findings
In the Executive Summary, summarize your research and your purpose. The executive
summary should be a stand-alone document. It should be written in such a way that a busy
executive could read the executive summary and know exactly what the paper is about without
reading the rest of the paper.
In the Introduction, you lay the groundwork for your readers for the details that will be
introduced in the white paper. If you need to define any terms, you will do so here. You might
share an anecdote or illustration to describe why this topic is important.
In the Previous Approaches section, you will describe the approaches or strategies that have
been previously used or are currently used on the topic. For example, if your white paper is
being written to advertise a new taxi service in your area, you might review what transportation
services are provided now. You could show the challenges or problems that the current services
involve. In this section of the white paper, your use of sources will be very important. You
should integrate research to show that the problems you have identified exist.
In the New Findings section, you present perhaps the most important information in the paper.
In this section, you will describe the findings of your research and relate these findings to the
purpose of your report. You will not only provide data and research, but you will also explain
the data and research and why it is relevant to your report’s topic.
For example, if your white paper is being written to advertise a new taxi service in your area, you
might review what transportation services are provided now and show why the new taxi service
fills a need that the current set of transportation services does not fill or solves a problem that the
current set of transportation services does not solve. You will provide data and evidence for why
the new taxi service has promise in solving the problems you have identified.
In this section of the white paper, your use of sources will be very important as well. You should
integrate research to show that the problems you have identified will be solved by your new
In the Conclusion section, you review what your research shows in light of the previous
approaches used. You will not tell the audience what steps to take next. However, you will
summarize what your findings articulate. In the References, you will list your sources that you cited in the paper. You will list them in
APA format. Please note that the lectures on white papers that you have viewed and examples of
white papers you may have read may not have used APA format. You will be using APA format
in this assignment.
You are required to have at least five sources for your paper. In addition, at least one of them is
to have been acquired through UMGC Library OneSearch.
Primary sources will be very beneficial for the paper. For example, if your white paper is being
written to advertise a new taxi service in your area, you might interview some local residents
about the problems they have with the current transportation services in the area. The
information in such interviews would be persuasive research to integrate into your white paper.
Length of the Paper:
Your white paper should be 1200-1600 words in length. Again, you are required to use at least
five sources, with at least one of them being acquired through UMGC Library OneSearch.
Your white paper should incorporate at least three graphics. Graphics can include tables, charts,
or graphs showing some research findings. They can also be images that are relevant to the topic
of the white paper.
At least two of the graphics must be original. Original graphics can include photos taken by you
or tables, charts, or graphs developed by you.
To see examples of graphics used in white papers, see the Purdue OWL video, “White Papers:
An Introduction to the Genre and Its Expectations,” at the 3:27 mark, at the 5:29 mark, at the
6:58 mark, at the 7:01 mark, at the 7:11 mark, at the 7:43 mark, and at the 7:58 mark.
please watch this video for more understanding
examples of white paper as follows
RUNNING HEAD: CLOUD COMPUTING
The benefits and risks for small, private medical practices
University of Maryland Global Campus
WRTG 393: Advanced Technical Writing
May 2, 20__2
Cloud computing is becoming an increasingly widespread solution for small private medical
practices, with large numbers of healthcare providers using cloud solutions for everything from
email to health information exchange, human resources, finances, and business continuity
disaster recovery (BCDR) (Bowser, 2018).
However, making the choice to migrate a practice from a more traditional on-site network server
to a cloud based platform should require more than simply jumping on the proverbial
bandwagon, but instead should require taking a closer look at the largest benefits and risks of
each platform solution in regards to hardware and software needs and costs, technical support
requirements, and potential loss and disaster recovery.
Traditional on-site network infrastructures come with:
• higher physical hardware expenses
• more dedicated office space and tailored environmental controls
• need for qualified on-site IT support
• increased costs of equipment turnover due to age or failure
• higher risk of data loss due to on-site disaster
• less risk of third party compromise or interception during transmission
Cloud computing solutions have:
• lower physical hardware expenses
• less necessary office space or environmental controls
• increased potential for additional needed training for IT or full staff
• reduced equipment turnover costs
• higher risk of loss of access to data due to power or connectivity loss
• higher risk of third party compromise or interception during transmission
Both the on-site network and the cloud computing options have benefits and risks that may be
easily overlooked or underestimated but could have long term impact on your practice
management and sustainability. It is important for each individual practice to carefully weigh
those factors against their available resources and projected needs in order to make an educated
decision that will best benefit their organization going forward. 3
For a small, private medical practice, with a full-time staff of under 25 employees, the decision
of whether or not to use cloud computing services for your small business is an important one,
and is one that is frequently made based solely on cost, without full knowledge of the risks and
rewards of cloud computing. While it is important that your network and cybersecurity
infrastructure be financially sustainable, it is also important to weigh all of the factors when
determining whether or not to migrate your Electronic Health Record (EHR), Practice
Management (PM), scheduling programs, and data storage to a remote cloud-based platform.
This paper will explain what cloud computing is, why cybersecurity is necessary to your
practice, what components and associated costs, IT support, and recovery plans are needed for
both on-site and cloud platforms, and the benefits and risks of choosing to migrate your practice
data to a cloud, from a financial perspective as well as a security perspective.
What is cloud computing?
“Cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of IT resources over the Internet with pay-as-yougo pricing” (Amazon Web Services, 2020). Essentially, this means that instead of having to
purchase and maintain large physical on-site network infrastructure such as servers and data
storage, you can pay for a web-based company, known as a cloud provider, to store information
for you, which can be accessed through a standard high-speed internet connection.
Basics of cloud storage
Dick, B. (2015). Hardware infrastructure global viewpoint –
December 2015. Retrieved from Calculating TCO: Cloud versus onsite solution – The Broadcast Bridge – Connecting IT to Broadcast4
While several different types of cloud computing exist, the two that this paper will focus on are
known as Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas) and Software as a Service (SaaS). IaaS “typically
provides access to networking features, computers (virtual or on dedicated hardware), and data
storage space” as well as the “highest level of flexibility and management control” and is “most
similar to the existing IT resources with which many IT departments and developers are
familiar” (Amazon Web Service, 2020). IaaS replaces some of the more costly hardware
infrastructure that would be needed on-site. SaaS refers to software packages which are
maintained and managed by the service provider, so little maintenance and understanding is
required by the users (Amazon Web Service, 2020). Your practice probably already uses some
SaaS in the form of web-based email programs, but SaaS can also include EHR software that
will operate out of a cloud and be accessed by your office workstations through the internet.
For small medical practices with no direct hospital affiliation or large corporate component,
cloud computing can be the solution to mitigating the high cost of owning and maintaining their
own on-site data storage and network components.
However, there are other factors to examine before you make a final determination for your
business. The two largest and most important are the security and accessibility of your data.
The importance of security
While no business, big or small, wants to have their private or proprietary information
compromised, those businesses who handle Protected Health Information (PHI), need to be even
more vigilant with cybersecurity in order to protect their patient’s privacy, as well as comply
with both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health Insurance
Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and the EHR Incentive Program, also
known as Meaningful Use (MU), for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) .
HIPPA is the federal law designed to provide national standards regarding the privacy
and security of PHI. For healthcare professionals, this applies to “every healthcare
provider, regardless of size of practice, who electronically transmits health information in
connection with certain transactions… [including] claims, benefit eligibility inquires,
referral authorization requests, and other transactions” as established under the HIPAA
Transactions Rule (Centers for Disease, 2019). The law outlines how PHI is allowed to
be used, and under what circumstances it can be disclosed to other parties.
The cost of failing to comply with HIPAA Standards is high – a recent court settlement in
2020 required a small private medical practice in Ogden, Utah to pay $100,000 in fines to
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) following a reported HIPAA
violation (Office for Civil Rights, 2020).
MU is the program put into place by CMS to incentivize the adoption of electronic health
records (EHR) along CMS guidelines. This includes the establishment of “base 5
requirements for electronic capturing of clinical data” (American Medical Association,
2020), and must be verified through an attestation process during each MU reporting
period to avoid penalties.
The penalties for practices who fail to comply with the MU program are calculated as a
percentage reduction in reimbursements for Medicare and Medicaid payments, with the
percentage increasing for each year the practice is out of compliance (Anapindi, 2019).
Prior to the late 1990s, medical records, practice management, and scheduling were all primarily
handled on-site, and manually. Records were often handwritten, and included in individual files
for each patient. The only storage for these documents were large file rooms, full of floor to
ceiling rows of paper files. Security was limited to locks on doors, and on-site security systems.
And anyone with a key, or the security codes, could access the data.
However, with the advancement of technology and the widespread expansion of the internet, the
vast majority of medical practices are now almost entirely digital. Physicians carry laptops and
tablets in the patient room, records are stored in computer databases, Xray images and EKG
printouts are now scanned into the computer for easy retention and access, and prescriptions and
orders are created on the computer and sent electronically to wherever they need to go. But for
even a small medical practice, this can still mean thousands of patient records containing tens to
hundreds of thousands of individual document files. This data requires a substantial amount of
data storage. It also requires a fully function intra-office network that will allow information to
be passed between physicians, or to the support staff, digitally. Then, that network needs to be
connected to the internet to transmit information outside of the practice to patients, pharmacies,
other practitioners, labs, and hospitals. 6
On-Site Server and Network Needs
A network built on-site requires a dedicated network server to connect the workstations together
and allow workstations to share document files. Dedicated servers are costly, with just the server
hardware itself running at somewhere around $3000-$5000 alone (How much does a server,
2019). And as data storage increases cost, the larger amount of data storage you need, the more
expensive the server will be. In addition, servers need space, and a tailored environment that
allows for air flow and ventilation, complete with temperature control and humidity regulation to
keep heat, moisture, and static electricity from damaging the equipment. Individual workstations
connected to the server, run at an approximate base rate of $800 each, prior to the installation of
any practice software. Software costs vary, but the more workstations there are, the higher the
cost, as licenses are typically issued per license, or block of licenses (by groups of 10, or 100).
On-site networks also require a method to back-up the data to prevent loss should the system be
damaged or compromised. This is addressed by a system of removable backup tapes, drives, or
disks. The server also requires a firewall, and the creation of a Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on
the network to allow patients to access the practice website or portal, without granting them
access to the internal network. The combined cost of all this hardware and software can be very
high. However, the benefit to an on-site server is that access to the server, and therefore the
information contained on it, is limited strictly to the staff within the practice. Additionally,
should a problem occur, the responsibility falls on the practice IT staff, rather than relying on a
third party to fix the situation, therefore allowing you more control over the recovery timeline
(SysGen, 2019). 7
On-Site Network Support
In order to set up and maintain the dedicated server and all of the workstation components,
offices will need to have at least one IT professional on staff. It is unrealistic and ill-advised to
expect your normal office staff to be able to set up and maintain a network server, as this
requires not only a substantial amount of time, but also specific knowledge and training. IT
Professionals earn an average of approximately $62,000 annually, with that rate fluctuating
based on geographical location, education and experience (Payscale, 2020). However, should
you choose to only hire IT support on an as-needed basis for set up, maintenance, upgrades, and
issues, IT technicians can cost approximately $100 an hour (How much does a server, 2019).
Maintenance, upgrades, and issue support could cost $100 a month, or multiple thousands of
dollars a month this way, depending on practice needs.
On-Site Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) Planning
Disaster recovery can refer to anything from an earthquake, to a burst pipe or power outage.
Continuity of business is important as practices need to know how and when they will have
access to their information. The benefit to having your resources and data stored on site is that,
should damage occur to your network, or connectivity to your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is
lost, you still may have localized access to your records. For medical practices in particular, this
means you do not lose access to patient medical information if you lose connectivity, and
therefore you can continue to treat patients. The risk, of course, is that should a disaster such as
a fire, or on-site flooding occur, your information could be in harm’s way along with the rest of
your equipment and systems.
The alternative method of networking is to implement cloud computing by utilizing an IaaS
platform for your practice. There are both benefits and risks to a cloud-based platform that need
to be considered before making a decision. 8
Cloud Based Server and Network Needs
While some on-site infrastructure will still be necessary, the benefit to utilizing an IaaS cloud
platform is that hardware costs will drop dramatically. Storing information in a cloud will
reduce the on-site data storage needed and the scope of server hardware, and will drastically
reduce replacement fees for outdated or broken equipment. Less space will be needed on site in
the office to manage the equipment, and dedicated airflow, temperature, and humidity controls
will not be necessary (SysGen, 2019). Additionally, working with cloud storage will allow you
to easily add storage as needed, instead of having to purchase additional equipment.
However, using cloud computing does not negate all of the needs or costs. In fact, depending on
how you use it, and how much storage you require, the reduction may be minimal at best. The
initial implementation and training for cloud services can run $1000-$2000, and the subscription
cost of cloud services can come in at anywhere from $200 a month to $600 a month per user,
depending on what services and the amount of data storage you need (Marton, 2012).
Additionally, you will still need some on-site hardware such as the individual workstation
terminals, software licenses, and subscriptions.
Cloud Based Platform Support
While it might seem that the cost of technical support for a cloud based platform should be
substantially less, keep in mind that cloud platforms function differently than typical on-site
platforms, and there may be hidden training costs involved in order to bring your staff up to
speed on how to utilize the cloud technology. Additionally, you will still need IT support, and
it’s possible that your IT staff may also need additional training on how to troubleshoot problems
on a cloud-based platform as opposed to on an in-house server. Also, in the event that a problem 9
does occur, and your practice needs to work with the cloud provider to fix the problem, your
recovery timeline is largely reliant on a third party.
Cloud Based BCDR Planning
BCDR planning is critical to the continuity of your business in the event that a natural disaster
impacts your network. The benefit to using cloud computing for your platform is that, should a
fire or flood occur, your data is protected from harm, and may be easily recovered from the
There are drawbacks. First, depending on the cloud service you use, large scale recovery of data
may not be covered in your regular subscription costs, and could therefore come with a heavy
price tag. Also, putting all of your data in a cloud means that you are trusting that not only will
your internet connection remain up and running, but the internet connection and network services
of your cloud provider will as well. Should one of you lose power or connectivity, you will have
no access to any record data stored in the cloud. This leaves your practice vulnerable to the loss
of accessibility to your patient records and data under circumstances which may be completely
outside of your control (SysGen, 2019).
Cloud computing offers small private medical practices a network option that will assist in
reducing hardware infrastructure and replacement costs, limit the space and resource footprint
associated with large physical infrastructure, and lower the risk associated with on-site disasters.
However, cloud computing does also potentially increase the amount of training needed to
operate the cloud network, lowers the timeline control on issue response, and increases the risk
of loss of accessibility to data in the event of power or connectivity issues, as well as increases
the potential for interception or breach as it travels outside of your own secure network.
Choosing between an on-site platform and a cloud-based platform is an important decision, and
one that should not be made based on one factor alone, but instead should be weighed based on a
more comprehensive knowledge of all of the associated risks and benefits of each solution, to
determine which solution could be best tailored to your practice’s particular resources and needs. 10
Amazon Web Services. (2020). What is cloud computing. Retrieved from
American Medical Association. (2020, January 27). Meaningful use: Electronic health record
(EHR) incentive programs. Retrieved from https://www.ama-assn.org/practicemanagement/medicare/meaningful-use-electronic-health-record-ehr-incentive-programs
Anupindi, A. (2019). Meaningful use. Penalties and Consequences. Retrieved from
Bowser, A. D. (2018). Healthcare in the Cloud: Shift may improve productivity, save time,
money. Dermatology Times, 39(4), 1-2. Retrieved from https://search-ebscohostcom.ezproxy.umuc.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ccm&AN=128924758&site=edslive&scope=site
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, February 21). Health Insurance Portability
and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Retrieved from
How much does a server cost for a small business. (2019, April 21). Retrieved from
Intel Security. (2017, February 13). New Intel security cloud report reveals IT departments find
it hard to keep the cloud safe. Retrieved from https://newsroom.intel.com/newsreleases/intel-security-cloud-report-reveals-it-departments-find-hard-keep-cloudsafe/#gs.55kkhb
Marton, B. (2012). Reach for the cloud: Technology simplifies processes, manages finances.
MGMA Connexion, 12(2), 25-25. Retrieved from https://eds-a-ebscohostcom.ezproxy.umuc.edu/eds/detail/detail?vid=3&sid=b9636821-be0f-4cda-8788-
Office for Civil Rights. (2020, March 3). Health care provider pays $100,000 settlement to OCR.
Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/complianceenforcement/agreements/porter/index.html?language=es
Payscale. (2020). IT professional salary. Retrieved from
Small Business Authority. (n.d.). What is the cloud? [Infograpic]. Retrieved from
SysGen. (2019, September 26). The pros and cons of cloud vs in house servers. Retrieved from
Venngage.com used for graph designs.
and the following is the second example of a another white paper .
Social Robots for Autism 1
Social Robots for Autism:
An innovative way to build social skills in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
University of Maryland University CollegeSocial Robots for Autism 2
One in one hundred and fifty. That was the rate of Autism reported in 2000. Today, the
rate has more than doubled to 1 in 69. According to Wright (2017), this increase is not
from a sudden breakout of autism. Since 2000, when researchers started closely tracking
the disorder, there has been more information learned about autism as well as changes to
the components that make up Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD (Wright, 2017, para.1).
People with autism are characterized as having difficulties with speech and social skills,
repetitive behaviors or speech, and heightened sensory sensitivity. As seen below in
Figure 1, Autism is not just one thing. It is a myriad of components, each exhibiting it’s
own set of challenges. Many children diagnosed with autism remain nonverbal or lack
functional communication skills needed for everyday life (What is Autism? 2012).
Visual Representation of the Various Medical Conditions Associated with Autism
From Autism Speaks. What are the symptoms of autism? Retrieved from
https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/symptomsSocial Robots for Autism 3
Children that are on the spectrum learn, experience, and process information differently
than typically functioning individuals. They require lessons to be broken down into
pieces and concepts presented to them a specific way that they can grasp. We will find
out how robots can fit into that scheme and revolutionize social learning for children with
When we envision robots, we tend to think of little plastic toys being manipulated by a
remote control or possibly an uber-smart humanlike system found in popular sciencefiction movies. The technical definition of robot, according to Cambridge Dictionary, is
“a mechanical device that works automatically or by computer control” (Robot
Definition). We could use the modern advances of robotics and incorporate that
technology in classrooms to help children with social disorders, such as ASD, in
improving their social skills and behaviors.
We can bring the term robot to a whole new level, especially when we begin to
incorporate them into the school system. We can create a more comfortable atmosphere
for children on the spectrum, as well as bring in technology that will help them learn how
to communicate appropriately with others, engage in meaningful conversation, and
provide them opportunities to be successful.
In this paper, you will learn the approaches that are currently being taken and previous
methods used for building social skills in children with social disorders and delays. While
these approaches are effective, they do have disadvantages that can hinder the progress of
the child. You will learn the benefits and outcomes of using social robots in speech and
language therapy and overall social skills development. These children have a difficult
time in social situations due to various aspects associated with Autism Spectrum
Disorder; therefore, we will focus on the advantages children experience by using a new
technology that creates a more comfortable learning environment.
Social robots, such as Milo, created by RoboKind, can lift children’s social and emotional
learning to the next level. This type of interactive robot uses a program called
Robots4Autism that caters to the developmental needs of children with autism while
providing a comfortable and consistent way to learn and grow (Garnier, 2017). Let’s see
how incorporating this innovative technology “is 100 times 1 million percent cool.” (as
cited in Garnier, 2017, para. 3). First, we will take a look at some techniques typically
used in the classroom to promote social development.
Teaching social skills to children that have difficulty interacting with other people can be
a complex task. It surely does not happen overnight and it takes time and patience from Social Robots for Autism 4
the therapist, teachers, and parents. Several methods for teaching social skills have been,
and are still, used in school and in therapy sessions. The following techniques are a few
most often utilized.
Social stories are a widely used technique for people with communication
difficulties. They are basically short stories or explanations of various social
situations written in a step-by-step format. They can be written as a one-page
sheet for a quick reference, such as in Figure 2, or as a booklet, as shown in
Figure 3. Social stories can be made unique to each individual, using their name,
picture, and other personal elements. They offer a very specific form of guidance
and can be read over and over again.
Example of a one-page social story
Example of a book style social storySocial Robots for Autism 5
Social stories are a useful way to teach children important social skills and
routines. However, they take time to prepare and implement. Each story is made
for that specific child in need and for each specific area of focus. This is timeconsuming for the teacher and therapist, leaving her unable to fully focus on the
individual’s overall needs. Additionally, it does not provide the required
interaction needed to build important interpersonal skills.
Role-playing is a great way for children to practice social skills as if they are
acting. The therapist or instructor creates a situation complete with a simple script
for each person. They will read the lines as if they are engaging in a real-life
scenario. It is important that the instructor demonstrates the correspondence first
so the child may see how the interaction is supposed to look. Oftentimes there
will be a right and wrong demonstration so the child may see which interaction is
more socially acceptable. They, then, discuss the effects of the situation and
discuss in what ways they were acting and responding appropriately.
This technique can be used in several types of situations, such as learning new
routines and general topics like starting conversations. There are downsides to
role-playing as well. As the situations become more specific, it is difficult to plan
and implement. Also, there is the fact that children with autism have a difficult
time interacting with people, scripted or not. They begin to focus on the persons
face, movements, goings-on in the room, sounds in the area, and many other
Video modeling is just what it sounds like; it is using a recorded video to model
behaviors. It can be used for an array of processes, such as social and
communication development, skills needed for daily living, and academics (Pros
and Cons, 2018). The child can learn by watching various scenarios played out by
actors on the screen or watch recorded videos of him or herself in targeted skill
While this can be an effective learning tool because of the technology involved,
there are some downsides to it as well. First of all, it is time consuming to find or
create the videos needed for the lesson. Second, it is not very motivating to many
individuals. They are watching a two-dimensional screen play out scenarios that
sometimes are not interesting to them in the first place. This will make it difficult
to keep the child engaged in learning no matter the age (Pros and Cons, 2018).
Group therapies not only take place in a clinical setting, but can also be found in a
school setting and are conducted by counselors, special education teachers, and/or Social Robots for Autism 6
therapists. These groups consist of a limited number of students and typically take
place in another classroom or quiet setting. The group works on building
important communication skills needed to function every day and are able to
interact with others and make friends. While group therapies are a great way for
students to learn social skills with others, it is not always the best atmosphere for
children with an autism spectrum disorder due to the increased anxiety brought on
by multiple distractions and stimuli (Duncan & Klinger, 2010).
Social stories, role-playing, video modeling, and group therapies are just a few
techniques used in the school setting to promote communication and social development.
These can be effective methods for children with autism, however, there are some
disadvantages that create uncomfortable learning environments and, therefore, inhibit
progress. Now, let’s take a look at an up-and-coming approach to social skills therapy.
Beep. Boop. Beep. Is this what you imagine when you think of robots? Well, Meet Milo
(Figure 4). He is an interactive social robot made by RoboKind and he does far more
fascinating things than just beep. He was specifically created with children with Autism
Spectrum Disorder in mind and he operates on a program designed by Robots4Autism.
Because of the discomfort social situations cause people with autism, Milo is an exciting
alternative to teach those individuals important skills for socializing. Milo, along with
other social robots, are designed to teach kids how to empathize, regulate emotions,
respond appropriately to others, and become self-motivators; all important factors when
communicating to people (Fleming, N., 2019).
Milo, the interactive robot used in social skills therapy
From Robokind. The inspiration behind our robots. Retrieved from
https://www.robokind.com/advanced-social-robotsSocial Robots for Autism 7
The way this program works is the child will watch very short video segments on a tablet
and decide if the situation is being handled in an appropriate and/or respectful way or not.
They will interact with the robot in these situations and practice responding properly and
recognizing facial expressions. According to the Robots4Autism website (and Figure 5),
children prefer to interact with Milo far more than with a human (Robots4Autism).
Wait… Is that really what we want to happen? While many of us think of that as a
disadvantage, we have to remember that children with ASD often have difficulty
interacting with humans because of various factors. If they can comfortably navigate and
learn valuable communication skills from a robot like Milo, they will slowly begin to
transition into other forms of communication. Social robots are not meant to completely
take over teaching and learning, they are meant to ease a child into social interactions and
gradually build them up to speaking with people more efficiently. Children of all kinds of
developmental stages and abilities are very much into technology, such as iPads and other
forms of electronics. Interactive social robots allow them to learn in a fun and innovative
Children respond to Milo 85% more than a human
From Student engagement: Milo vs. human [Digital Image]. Retrieved from
https://robots4autism.com/what/researchSocial Robots for Autism 8
A survey was done of various social robots used for teaching social skills to children with
autism. According to Cabibihan, Javed, Ang, and Aljunied (2013), the robots had an
assortment of characteristics that provided quality learning and engaging lessons for the
students. The robots were found to reward the students in ways such as lighting up,
dancing, or playing music. Some of the models even gave the students the choice of what
kind of rewards they preferred based on what their sensory deficits would allow. Some of
the primary goals of the robots were to have the children imitate certain behaviors, which
is a great way for children to learn and explore new actions. The children worked on
making eye contact, taking turns in conversation, and recognizing emotions and facial
expressions. It was found that robots are successful tools in teaching social behaviors to
children with autism. The robots proved not only to be an engaging playmate, but it
provided the children valuable lessons in communication (Cabibihan et al, 2013).
Fox News did a story on a school division in Texas that incorporated Milo into their
special needs program. They found that the children were highly engaged and attentive to
Milo, as opposed to only listening to the teachers or facilitators for a few minutes. Parents
of the students were also interviewed and said they saw improvements in their child’s
communication. The school was impressed by the progress and wants to continue using
the robots for social skill development (Garnier, 2017).
There are many reasons why the school system should incorporate interactive social
robots into the special education curriculum. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
have a difficult time communicating with humans because of the countless distractions,
including facial and hand movements, language concepts, and other surrounding stimuli.
The robot takes away some of those distractions and allows the student to interact with it
and learn basic communication skills. The skills they are taught and practice are essential
for them to learn in order to begin to effectively and appropriately communicate with
others in the community. There is amazing technology out there, such as Milo. Why not
use him and others like it to better the futures of our students and create opportunities for
them to succeed?Social Robots for Autism 9
Autism Symptoms [Digital image]. Retrieved from https://www.autismspeaks.org/whatautism/symptoms
Cabibihan, J., Javed, H., Ang Jr., M., & Aljunied, S. M. (2013. Why robots? A survey
on the roles and benefits of social robots in the therapy of children with autism.
Duncan, A.M. & Klinger, L.G. (2010). Autism spectrum disorders: Building social skills
in groups, school, and community settings. Social Work with Groups, 33(2-3).
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Fleming, N. (March 14, 2019. Can a robot help autistic children connect? Retrieved from
Garnier, T. (2017, December 03). Classroom robot helps South Carolina children with
autism. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2017/12/03/south-carolinachildren-with-autism-say-classroom-robot-is-too-cool.html
Milo [Digital image]. Retrieved from https://www.robokind.com/advanced-social-robots
Pros and Cons of Video Modeling|Autism. (2018, February 16). Retrieved from
Robot Definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Student Engagement: Milo vs. Human [Digital Image]. Retrieved from
Wright, J. (2017, March 03). The Real Reasons Autism Rates Are Up in the U.S.
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What Is Autism? (2012, May 31). Retrieved from https://www.autismspeaks.org/whatautis