The impact of AV1 on children with long-term illness and absence

Written by: No Isolation

Last updated: September 14, 2018

Every child, without any exception whatsoever, is entitled to receive education (UN Declaration, 1959).

Effects of absence on mental health and school performance

In Europe alone, more than 500,000 children with long-term illness are unable to attend school for extended periods of time. The research is crystal clear: School absence resulting from illness is a problem with major educational and social consequences. The absence is correlated with grade retention, achievement gaps, and dropout rates. Not least, disconnection from peers due to illness have profound effects on children's social and emotional wellbeing (Gilmour et al., 2015; Hopkins et al., 2014; Ginsburg et al., 2014; Clic Sargent, 2012; Shiu, 2001). “Reducing the risk of disengagement during periods of absence” is being described as “critical in avoiding premature school leaving and educational underachievements for these students” (Hopkins et al., 2014).

How AV1 and telepresence solutions help reconnect children with peers and education

The importance of maintaining school connection in mitigating the known educational and social problems is frequently highlighted in the literature (See for example: Gilmour et al., 2015; Hopkins et al., 2014; Dockett, 2004; Shiu, 2004), and new types of information and communication technologies (ICT) are described as one of the most promising prospects for connecting students with significant illness or injury with school (Gilmour, 2015;  Hopkins et al., 2014).

Recent research demonstrates that new ICT in the form of telepresence solutions, like AV1, increase the efforts of home/hospital teachers, particularly by enabling peer social interaction. All studies referenced here demonstrate that to the children the bigger prize is the fact that telepresence solutions enable the children to stay socially connected with their peers and engaged in school work (Soares, 2017; Newhart, 2016; Thommesen, 2017; Breivik, 2017, Jones et al., 2009). The first trials specifically examining the use of AV1 (Thommesen, 2017; Breivik, 2017; Børsting & Culén, 2016) on children and young adults suffering from ME/CFS showed “huge potential of the avatar” and “lessons learned most certainly generalize to many of those suffering from ME/CFS (Børsting & Culén, 2016)”. Amongst other, research fellow Jorun Børsting can tell that: “One of the students recovered during the period of my study and expressed that it was easier returning to school due to using the robot”.

AV1 in biology class

Observations on the users of AV1

As of April 2018, more than 450 children in Germany, France, the UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Romania, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Belgium are using AV1 actively. Their age ranges from 6 to 25. To this date, AV1 has been part of 15 pilot studies and tested on a large variety of diagnoses including ME/CFS, cancer, cerebral palsy, anxiety, tick-borne illnesses, gastroschisis (gastrointestinal illness), and rare conditions including autoimmune diseases and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. However, common for all children using AV1 is that their diagnosis has resulted in absence from their everyday lives.

Breda municipality in the Netherlands, who has tested five AV1s with children with various diagnoses, concluded that AV1 could fit any individual situation. Amongst others, Breda can tell that one highly sensitive student was gradually integrated back into regular education because of AV1 (Breda, 2018).

What we cannot accurately know due to privacy, et cetera.

No Isolation takes the privacy of its users and customers extremely seriously. Thus, No Isolation does not gather personal data on the children using AV1. Because of this, we cannot precisely tell how the 450 users are divided between the different diagnoses, and what the most frequent age is, et cetera.