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  1. Smartstones Technology Gives Voice to Students...

    January 3, 2017- "Smartstones Technology Gives Voice to Students Who Cannot Speak Themselves" - New :prose app, developed by Smartstones, offers an easy to use assisted-communication program which allows kids to associate phrases with gestures such as swiping. The founder, Andreas Forsland, believed other assisted-communication programs were often too complicated and outdated.

    • Jan 04 2017 11:32 AM
    • by National Autism Network
  2. Google Glass Could Be a Social Gamechanger for...

    September 21, 2016 "Google Glass Could Be a Social Gamechanger for Kids on the Autism Spectrum"- Stanford University team is using Google Glass to help children with Autism be better able to read social cues. They have name this developing technology, Autism Glass, and the current study is nearing completion. They are working to prepare for a larger clinical study with a goal of launching it later this year.

    • Sep 22 2016 09:51 AM
    • by National Autism Network
  3. Can iPads Detect Signs of Autism?

    September 6, 2016- "Can iPads Detect Signs of Autism?"- Researchers believe that tracking movement patterns while a child plays with an iPad may be enough to identify if that child has autism according to a new study published in the journal of Scientific Reports.

    • Sep 08 2016 09:12 AM
    • by National Autism Network
  4. How Microsoft successfully recruited and retain...

    September 7, 2016- "How Microsoft successfully recruited and retained coders with autism"- A year in, Microsoft's program that focused on hiring individuals with autism has been successful in both recruiting and retaining the strong group of employees.  Microsoft also added a mentoring program which helps the individual integrate with the other employees as well as provide support.

    • Sep 08 2016 09:02 AM
    • by National Autism Network
  5. Pokémon Go App Set to Help Children on Autism S...

    July 15, 2016- "Pokémon Go App Set to Help Children on Autism Spectrum"- Released earlier this month, the Pokémon Go app has mushroomed into a global phenomenon. This article discusses how this app can improve social skills in children with autism by connecting individuals on the with others through this common interest and by effectively pulling children away from their consoles and into nature.

    • Jul 18 2016 09:38 AM
    • by brian
  6. Brain Scans May Soon Paint Personal Pictures of...

    July 5, 2016- Brain Scans May Soon Paint Personal Pictures of Mental Health- This article delves into the recent technical advances surrounding brain imaging, a field that is still in its infancy. These advances includes new statistical techniques, combination approaches, and methods that capture changes in neural activity over time. These advances, combined with collaborative efforts such as the Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange (AIDE) and the Human Connectome Project, which are generating larger datasets and more high-quality brain imaging data, are helping to expand the applications and accuracy of brain imaging. The article concludes with a deep dive into a few brain imaging initiatives and how the data collected can transform our understanding of the human brain and how conditions like autism affect it.

    • Jul 05 2016 09:13 AM
    • by brian
  7. Students Make App for People with Autism

    May 2, 2016- "Students Make App for People with Autism"- Students from P.S. 224 in the South Bronx can now add “app creators” to their resumes. The app, called “Dolphin,” helps non-verbal individuals speak freely with just a few clicks. Their app recently won a middle school app challenge created by CA Technologies. In a about a week the Dolphin app will be available in the iTunes app store.

    • May 04 2016 08:54 AM
    • by brian
  8. Virtual Job Interviews Prepare People with Auti...

    April 14, 2016- "Virtual Job Interviews Prepare People with Autism for Work"- A new program called Virtual Interactive Training Agent, or viTA DMF, is helping young adults with autism and other disabilities practice for interviews virtually. The program conjures computer-generated characters designed to present varied race, genders, and personality types. The virtual interviewers can ask softball or hardball questions so that potential employees aren’t as nervous and better prepared for interviews. Mary Partin, DMF’s chief executive officer, says this is one of the few innovative tools for young people to practice interview skills and that the majority of students who used ViTA DMF have successfully interviewed and been hired for jobs. In all, interviewees undergo four sessions with their virtual employers, with the most substantial gains in interview improvement occurring after the second and third sessions.  

    • Apr 15 2016 11:11 AM
    • by brian
  9. Autism Awareness App Cognoa Puts Early Interven...

    April 14, 2016- "Autism Awareness App Cognoa Puts Early Intervention Power in Parents' Hands"- In this interview with Clara Lajonchere, Ph.D., the reader learns about a new app named Cognoa, which is designed to help parents assess and support their child’s development. The app helps parents keep track of their child’s developmental milestones and allows parents to screen their child and even contact “developmental experts” via the app with any questions or concerns about development.

    • Apr 15 2016 09:03 AM
    • by brian
  10. Google Awards Millions for Disability Initiative

    April 13, 2016- "Google Awards Millions for Disability Initiative"- Google recently announced that it has selected 30 organizations to receive grants through its “Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities” initiative. Through this endeavor, Google is distributing more than $20 million to groups located in 13 different countries. The largest grant of $1.4 million will go to The Arc to create an online tool to help people with cognitive disabilities find the right apps and other assistive technologies. Another notable recipient is the Dan Marino Foundation, which will work to develop an interactive job training program for people with autism.

    • Apr 13 2016 11:16 AM
    • by brian
  11. Pathways Chart Book Offers National Portraits o...

    April 11, 2016- "Pathways Chart Book Offers National Portraits of the Autism Experience"- Throughout the last few years, Autism Speaks has partnered with the Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health to autism-related statistics and other resources accessible and useful to individuals and families affected by autism. This included the creation of the interactive Pathways to Diagnosis and Services data portal. To complement this interactive information portal, the center has published a “chart book” to highlight some of the ways that people in the autism community have used and can use the information in the Pathways portal. The book’s format is designed for easy use by all those within the autism community, from families to policymakers.

    • Apr 13 2016 09:45 AM
    • by brian
  12. Tech Tools Help Parents, Teachers Overcome Auti...

    March 29, 2016- "Tech Tools Help Parents, Teachers Overcome Autism's Hurdles"- This article discusses some of the technological advancements in recent years that have helped parents and teachers assisting individuals with autism. Among those discussed is an education service called Relias Learning, which offers web-based training in autism treatments for healthcare professionals and caregivers. Another teaching tool, known as Rethink, houses a library of more than 1,500 video-based exercises, lesson plans, and printable materials relevant to educating children on the spectrum and are designed for both parents and teachers. Other online teaching tools are also discussed within this rather informative article.

    • Mar 30 2016 12:17 PM
    • by brian
  13. Entrepreneurs Design Backpack for Kids on the S...

    March 21, 2016- "Entrepreneurs Design Backpack for Kids on the Spectrum"- Recently, third grader Liam Craig got to test out the Nesel Pack, a specialized backpack being developed by student entrepreneurs at the University of Minnesota for kids on the spectrum. The Nesel Pack has thick straps and weighted pouches to mimic a compression vest and help with body awareness. There are also clips on the front to attach sensory toys. This article goes on to discuss the origins of the backpack and those who helped nurture the product from a simple idea to a working prototype.

    • Mar 22 2016 08:37 AM
    • by brian
  14. Navy Funds Autism-Screening App, Hoping for Hel...

    March 20, 2016- "Navy Funds Autism-Screening App, Hoping for Help with PTSD"- The Navy is funding research into an app that screens for autism in the hopes that it could eventually be utilized to look for signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. The Autism & Beyond app uses a smartphone camera and an algorithm to read children’s facial expressions and assess their emotional responses.  The app could be expanded to PTSD to monitor people over time if speech and other signals are taken into account.

    • Mar 21 2016 02:01 PM
    • by brian
  15. Humanoid Robot Works in Therapy for Children wi...

    March 15, 2016- "Humanoid Robot Works in Therapy for Children with Autism"- TecO is a humanoid robot that detects neural signals thanks to an operational amplifier using a headset or a hood, which has electrodes mounted on the child’s head to record signals that are sent to a computer that translates them into information that is interpreted by a psychologist or a neurologist. The tool has been found to produce significant progress in only two months for children with autism, although every child is different. The robot uses a camera to record emotions through facial expressions and the amount of time children maintain eye contact, which is seen as a measure of progress. The robot itself is 50 centimeters tall, has the face and arms of a bear, is made out of aluminum, and is certainly a site to behold.

    • Mar 16 2016 08:44 AM
    • by brian
  16. Imaging Tool Creates Hologram of Brain Circuits

    March 2, 2015- "Imaging Tool Creates Hologram of Brain Circuits"- A new imaging tool creates a hologram of neurons firing across distant areas of the mouse brain. The tool could reveal how brain circuits are altered in mouse models of autism. To create the tool, researchers equipped a fluorescent microscope with a device that splits a single laser beam into smaller ‘beamlets.’ These beamlets scan different depths of brain tissue and detect the light emitted by fluorescent indicators when calcium flows into firing neurons. Data from the from the modified microscope feed into an algorithm that builds a hologram of a section of brain tissue as deep as 700 micrometers, about the thickness of a grain of salt. Not only does the new tool save time, but its ability to scan many layers at a single point in time allows researchers to observe synchronized firing in distant regions of the mouse brain.

    • Mar 03 2016 10:05 AM
    • by brian
  17. Meet Leka, the Vibrating 'Social Robot'...

    January 4, 2016- "Meet Leka, the Vibrating 'Social Robot' Designed to Help Children with Autism Learn New Skills"- Leka, the motion-sensitive robot designed to help children with autism, was recently unveiled at the consumer technology show in Law Vegas. The ball robot lets children play learning games by providing sensory stimulation through movement, lights, vibration, and sound. According to its creators, Leka caters to the specific needs of kids with autism and focuses on improving sensory processing and reducing anxiety. The model revolves around the concept of "gamification," where typical elements of gaming, such as point scoring and competition, are applied to learning to make it more accessible. Readers can watch a demo of Leka in action in a video posted at the bottom of this article.

    • Jan 05 2016 11:06 AM
    • by brian
  18. 2015 Year in Review: Top Accomplishments for th...

    December 30, 2015 - '2015 Year in Review: Top Accomplishments for the Autism Community'

    A lot of significant events transpired in 2015 that affected the autism community. Over the course of 2015, we witnessed important autism-related events, were introduced to groundbreaking research studies, witnessed the development and release of new autism-related technologies, and members of the autism community accomplished great feats, which inspired us all. We see legislation from the previous year begin to take hold in the form of the ABLE Act, promising new autism research partnerships come together, and were privy to a number of stories highlighting just how far society has come in their acceptance of people with autism. In our “2015 Year in Review,” we invite you to look back at some of this year’s major events, research findings, stories of human interest, and technology-related stories that impacted that autism community this past year.

    • Major Events - This past year was a significant one for the autism community. Between the announcement of a 1 in 45 autism prevalence rate and Sesame Street’s announcement of a new character with autism, individuals in the autism community have had a lot to absorb and process. The National Autism Network has decided to highlight some of the major events in 2015 that we hope will have an impact on the autism community for years to come.
    • Important Research - Important research studies conducted in 2015 unveiled a number of revelations about the disorder. Some newsworthy research studies published this year concern autism-linked genes, antidepressant use during pregnancy, and a particularly ironic study funded by an anti-vaxxer group which found there to be no connection between vaccines and autism (again!).
    • Human Interest News- A lot of individuals made an impact on the autism community in 2015. These individuals were often told by others that their diagnosis would prevent them from achieving anything. Instead, they went ahead and went on to achieve something worth reading about. We hope you agree as this section highlights some of the 2015’s most impressive accomplishments from people on the autism spectrum.
    • Technological Innovations - This section of the National Autism Network’s Year End Review focuses on the technological innovations that have assisted researchers and educators working with individuals on the spectrum. This year’s stories focus on how technology has impacted the autism community and run the gamut from apps that allow individual’s with autism to voice their opinions to affect real change to a local narrative exploring how the galaxy’s favorite droid is teaching children with autism social skills.
    With all that the community accomplished in 2015, we look forward to what 2016 has in store for us.

    • Dec 30 2015 11:14 AM
    • by National Autism Network
  19. 2015 Year in Review: The Best of Technology

    December 30, 2015- '2015 Year in Review: The Best of Technology'

    This section of the National Autism Network’s Year in Review will focus on technological innovations that have assisted researchers and educators working with individuals on the spectrum. This year’s stories focus on how technology has impacted the autism community and run the gamut from apps that allow individual’s with autism to voice their opinions to affect real change to a local narrative exploring how everyone’s favorite droid is teaching children with autism social skills.

    Apple ResearchKit for Autism- Nearly seven months after launching its initial ResearchKit, Apple’s iOS-based platform for clinical research, the tech giant released three new trials focusing on autism, epilepsy, and melanoma. The new Autism & Beyond app allows researchers at Duke University to cast a wider net with regards to their research. The app allows the researchers to map a child’s reaction to approved stimuli to determine their reaction, which can be linked to possible signs of autism. The app works like an “interactive selfie” by playing a 20-minute video while the smart phone’s built-in camera scans viewers’ facial expressions, analyzes their microreactions, and then indicates if there’s a potential risk of autism. The idea is that they can amass thousands of these reactions as well as potential autism diagnoses to create an app that can assist in recognizing the disorder. This way, the app can alert parents if they should seek out a doctor based on their child’s indicators for autism. Technology like this could be used as a screening tool to lower the age of diagnosis from its current average of 4 years old.

    ASCmeI.T App- This app provides the autism community with something they have deserved for decades, a voice in the development of new technologies that could help them. This new app allows researchers to crowdsource ideas from autism users from around the globe. Users can upload a one-minute video explaining their idea, which will be shared with researchers, so that new developments in digital technologies can be matched to support the needs of users.  This first-of-its-kind research initiative has boundless applications. The researchers hope it will lead in new developments in any number of areas from technologies to support transitions to those that address bullying. As one co-investigator on the project put it, this app promotes “citizen science.” You can download the app from the iTunes store. It was developed by Digital Bubbles, a group of researchers from the Universities of Bath, Southampton, and Sussex in the U.K.

    Project: EVO: Earlier this year, Akili Interactive Labs set out to test the video game “Project: EVO” to see if it could potentially be applicable as a cognitive disorder therapy. Early research on this brand of “edutainment” demonstrated that the prototype engages brain pathways involved in executive brain functions including attention, focus, and problem solving. Some caution that individuals may build skills during gameplay, but it has yet to be determined if those skills carry over to real world and into everyday life. The current study includes teenage participants with autism and ADHD and will ideally function to help preteens improve their ability to process information before they transition out of high school. The company hopes that one day their game will reduce or replace the drugs kids take for ADHD and autism. Although, this requires approval from the FDA, a process that can take several years and cost millions of dollars in trials and research. There is also the real danger of this gaming platform becoming obsolete by the time the FDA process is complete. Despite this, they believe the game and games like these could have a huge impact on health care, reducing the amount of prescribed drugs people take and improve our diagnostic for certain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.

    Avatars for Autism: Veteran animator Gary Jesch unveiled the Invirtua 3D computer system in 2015 to help children with autism who experience social anxiety and other autism symptoms. The company, Invirtua: Interactive Avatars for Autism, creates avatars that allow therapists, speech pathologists, and parents the ability to use live cartoons to interact with their clients and children with autism. The characters are referred to as “digital puppets,” who appear on video screens and interact in real-time while telling stories, teaching lessons, demonstrating facial expressions, and playing with body language. The process also allows the child with autism to become the puppeteer, adding an engaging dimension to role-playing. This type of virtual therapy allows operators to experiment with a variety of characters, from fanciful fish characters to the more realistic “Digital Dan.” Children on the spectrum seem to better relate and respond to animated characters. Furthermore, the ability of the parent or caregiver to exactly repeat actions over and over again helps with reinforcement, teaching the child without them ever realizing they are undergoing therapy.

    Star Wars: One of earliest and most lighthearted pieces of autism-related technology news we reported on this year involved a unique social skills project in which students with autism were building a fully operational R2-D2 robot. The famous Star Wars droid was a pet project of fifth-grade Blazier Elementary School teacher Caleb Zammit, who spent three years making robot parts from scratch. The students are a part of the school’s SCORES program, which stands for Social Communication and Resource services. According to Zammit, “The main focus was just learning to work as a group, and how to get along and use their manners when working on a big project altogether.” In the past, we have written about how robots are becoming more commonplace in the clinical setting as a means of interacting with kids on the spectrum. It is interesting to observe how a combination of technology, whether it’s a robot from a movie released 40 years ago or a new smartphone app, and imagination and creativity can provide children with autism a unique therapeutic experience.

    • Dec 30 2015 10:55 AM
    • by National Autism Network
  20. New Device Created by Students to Help Children...

    December 14, 2015- "New Device Created by Students to Help Children with Autism"- Students at Purdue set out to “help children with autism improve their independence” with a prototype device called HEARD. The handheld educational device helps children and other individuals with autism develop communication skills. HEARD is different from other communication tools because it allows children to communicate through pictures using radio frequency identification cards or RFIDs. The team of students won $5,000 for this semester’s challenge, beating out 14 other teams.

    • Dec 15 2015 09:52 AM
    • by brian
  21. 'CRISPR' Way to Cut Genes Speeds Advanc...

    December 14, 2015- "'CRISPR' Way to Cut Genes Speeds Advances in Autism"- This article discusses how the gene-editing tool CRISPR has been utilized in a number of recent studies and how it has impacted research related to autism. One big advantage of the tool is it allows for the creation of mouse models that allow researchers to closely mimic the autism-linked mutations seen in people. Furthermore, CRISPR allows for mouse models to be up and running in three months as opposed to the typical six months or more. Another advantage is that this method makes it possible to easily insert multiple mutations into a single animal, unlike the traditional method of painstakingly creating sets of mice for each animal and then interbreeding them over years. Since autism is thought to stem from the additive effect of multiple mutations, this advantage is particular powerful for researching the disorder.

    • Dec 14 2015 09:58 AM
    • by brian
  22. Virtual Reality Could Help People with Autism L...

    November 16, 2015- "Virtual Reality Could Help People with Autism Learn Social Skills and Develop Employment Opportunities"- Virtual Reality Technologies (VRTs) using head-mounted displays (HMDs) could help people with autism develop social skills and confidence, according to recent research. Researcher Dr. Nigel Newbutt has investigated how virtual world platforms such as Second Life can help people with autism navigate social situations. His current project is examining how the role of innovative technologies can have a positive impact on the employment prospects of people with autism and other disabilities. The research team looked at the willingness of people with autism to wear a virtual reality headset, the extent to which people using the device experienced a sense of presence and immersion during the “experiences” and also if wearing the device caused anxiety. In each experiment the outcomes were positive and provided some new data. The next stage, which is funded as part of a National Institute of Health grant, will investigate adapting experiences by developing a targeted intervention program.

    • Nov 18 2015 03:19 PM
    • by brian
  23. New Apple ResearchKit Trials Focus on Epilepsy,...

    October 15, 2015- "New Apple ResearchKit Trials Focus on Epilepsy, Autism and Skin Cancer"- Last March, Apple launched ResearchKit, its iOS-based platform for clinical research, with five initial classes. Recently, the company announced three new trials focused on epilepsy, autism, and melanoma. Traditionally, researchers were limited to geographic proximity when recruiting for clinical trials. The ResearchKit platform allowed researchers to reach thousands of participants within days of its launch with a diversity of location, background, age, and health. The new autism app, “Autism & Beyond,” allows researchers at Duke University to map a child’s reaction to approved stimuli to determine their reaction, which be linked to possible signs of autism. Ideally, they can amass thousands of these reactions as well as potential autism diagnoses to create an app that can assist in recognizing the disorder, which would be particularly valuable in areas with few child psychologist who specialize in autism.

    • Oct 16 2015 09:13 AM
    • by brian
  24. A New App to Help Autistic People with Technology

    October 4, 2015- "A New App to Help Autistic People with Technology"- A new app asks people on the spectrum what they want to see in terms of new research and technology directed towards the autism community. The app, known as ASCmeI.T, was developed in the UK with the aim of involving people with autism in the development of new technologies that could assist them. This app is designed to crowd source ideas from professionals, families, educators, and individuals on the spectrum by allowing users to upload a one-minute video explaining their ideas, which will be shared with researchers to potentially develop the technology.  

    • Oct 06 2015 09:47 AM
    • by brian
  25. Sweet Formula Seamlessly Crafts See-Through Brains

    September 30, 2015- "Sweet Formula Seamlessly Crafts See-Through Brains"- Using a sugar found in fruit, researchers have developed a new chemical cocktail for making brains transparent. Brains are opaque largely because they are full of fat, which form cell membranes. In traditional methods for preparing brains for imaging, researchers use high concentrations of harsh detergents or organic solvents to dissolve the fats. Other methods use less harsh chemicals but have other drawbacks, such as ScaIeA2, which flushes fats out of the brain using a combination of urea, glycerol, and a small amount of detergent. But urea causes the brain to swell and distort, and renders the brain only partially transparent.  In the study, researchers modified ScaleA2 by replacing glycerol with sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that makes tissues shrink. The resulting mixture of sorbitol and urea, called ScaleS, maintains the brain at its original size while making it transparent.

    • Oct 01 2015 10:48 AM
    • by brian