‘Portable Hug’ Vest, Designed To Improve Quality of Life For Autistic Patients

Accepting the prize
Therapeutic Systems, a concept business thought up by U of Mass at Amherst doctoral student Brian Mullen, won the $50,000 grand prize at the May 8 Technology Innovation Challenge (TIC).

Therapeutic Systems plans to market a novel “deep-pressure vest,” developed in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, that improves mental healthcare and the quality of life for people with mental illness, especially autism, by providing a “portable hug.” An estimated 3 million to 4 million patients suffer from developmental disorders such as autism.

Read more here.

Research tool can detect autism at 9 months of age

Early Autism Study

The ability to detect autism in children as young as nine months of age is on the horizon, according to researchers at McMaster University.

The Early Autism Study, led by Mel Rutherford, associate professor of psychology in the Faculty of Science, has been using eye tracker technology that measures eye direction while the babies look at faces, eyes, and bouncing balls on a computer screen.

More information here

Children with autism may learn from ‘virtual peers’


Using “virtual peers” — animated life-sized children that simulate the behaviors and conversation of typically developing children — Northwestern University researchers are developing interventions designed to prepare children with autism for interactions with real-life children.

Read more here.

Virtual Reality Aids Autistic Children

Recent research conducted at the University of Haifa found that children with autism improved their road safety skills after practicing with a unique virtual reality system. “Children with autism rarely have opportunities to experience or to learn to cope with day-to-day situations. Using virtual simulations such as the one used in this research enables them to acquire skills that will make it possible for them to become independent,” said Profs. Josman and Weiss, from the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of Haifa.
Read More.

Using Second Life for Asperger’s Therapy

Asperger’s and Second Life

Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas Center for Brain Health are using the Second Life web-based virtual-world program to help asperger’s patients learn social skills and interactions. But skeptics think that using the computer is not a sufficient tool to prepare for the real world. Read the complete story here.

Teaching With Video

TV Teaching
Children are often discouraged from watching television, but new tools use videos to teach kids with autism. See TVTeacherVideos.com.

Study Finds FaceSay Improves Emotion

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have released a research study that found that children with Asperger Syndrome and autism who used the FaceSay interactive program increased their ability to read facial expressions and emotions.

Read the UAB press release here.

Visit the FaceSay web site here.

Video Glossary

Video Glossary
A new site from Autism Speaks presents a library of video clips of behavior of autistic children in direct contrast with typical child behavior. The clips allow parents and teachers to better identify potential signs of autism. See the video glossary here.

Videogames for learning ?

Videogames for learning

Medical professionals at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas are using videogames to educate children about their ailments and treatments. While the use of this technology has focused on patients with cancer, is this a possible application for children with autism ?

Read more…

KASPAR – The Kid-Friendly Robot


KASPAR is a child-sized robot create to identify optimal robot design in order to maximize interaction with children. Similar research is being conducted through the IROMEC Project (Interactive RObotic social MEdiators as Companions) – mentioned here earlier – which is specifically studying the impact of robots on children with autism.

Read about the KASPAR project here or watch this video.

Also learn about the Aurora Project, a precursor to the work on KASPAR which looked at the use of robots to improve interactive skills in children with autism.

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