With the aim of understanding the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and toys in the learning process of children with neurodevelopmental challenges, Dr Chiranjib Bhattacharya of Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, with the support of Jayashree Ramesh of the Academy for Severe Handicaps and Autism (ASHA), Bengaluru, studied the use of toy robots small in size and not necessarily humanoid in assisting learning for children with autism spectrum disorder. The founder, Ms. Jayashree Ramesh, was very supportive. She helped us identify which children to work with, the challenges to target and what their education is like, said Nabanita Paul, a PhD student with Chiranjib Bhattacharya and one of the first authors of the paper.The goal was threefold what it takes to understand the interaction between the special educator, child and robot; focus on helping not only the child but also the special educator In reducing their workload; and designing the interactions and evaluation metrics.The interventions were designed keeping up with the Individualised Education Plan (IEP) that was in place for each child, comprising not only formal education goals but also special needs such as social communication or motor skills. Paul explains, If you want to make a drawing and you need a pencil, you need to ask, please give me a pencil. This could be a challenge for these children. This kind of functional communication can include asking for things, asking for help, asking to use the washroom, etc.One lesson was Talk to Me, where the child and the robot would talk to each other and practice self-introduction questions. For example, Cozmo would ask the child, what is your name? If the child did not respond, the special educator would prompt the child, or the robot would also prompt the child, saying, I didnt hear you, said Paul. If the child answered partially or incorrectly, the robot would make a little jig or show excitement. The special educator would prompt the child, she added.Paul has won the Murthy Govindaraju Women in Computer Science endowment award 2022.