The Fight Against Autism Goes High TechBy Gardner, Amanda; HealthDay News,
Publication Date: June 18, 2010
Article discusses the use of technology such as iPod apps, robots, and computer avatars to improve social skills of people with autism spectrum disorder. According to an official at the autism advocacy group Autism Speaks quoted, the predictability of robots and computer generated avatars makes them a low-threat aid in teaching children with autism new skills. Examples of interactive robots include a toy dinosaur that nods his head and purrs when he is stroked and a turtle named Crush, part of the Turtle Talk With Crush interactive attraction featured at several Disney theme parks. A study is cited that found that children with autism participating in a show with the turtle were more likely to smile, repeat words uttered by Crush, clap, and laugh following the show. For people with Asperger’s syndrome, a wrist worn sensor is described that measures their heart rate and other vital measures to enable them to connect their physical response with their feelings and thus understand which behaviors are appropriate for different situations. Other innovations mentioned are a GPS application that acts as a proximity indicator, helping autistic people understand how close they can appropriately stand next to another person depending on their relationship; and an adapted iPod Touch used with students at the Kentucky Autism Training Center at the University of Louisville, which includes videos of how to interact appropriately with others in particular situations.
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