Education

Autism, Integration and Technology

By March 21, 2013 No Comments

My second blog, in a series of four, covering the categories discussed during the Autism Speaks Investment Conference, will focus on Diagnostics and Enabling Technologies. Not only is this topic relevant due to new developments and research, but just yesterday the CDC released a new study showing the incidence rates of autism have shifted from 1 in 88 to 1 in 50. The message here, so eloquently stated by our dear friend, Kevin Custer, is this:

The rate of autism is growing.

The issue is becoming more important.

The need for products and services continues to grow.

This new study brings even more emphasis to the growing need for finding ways to work together to accommodate the needs of individuals on the autism spectrum…no matter who they are, how they learn or how they communicate. The idea of inclusion in the classroom is catching on in more schools, which is positive news. It’s not acceptable to make assumptions about, or mention a diagnosis of, autism unless it’s relevant and properly sourced. In fact, the Associated Press Stylebook now provides guidance for reporters on how to write about conditions like autism. This is a huge step for communicators – the AP Stylebook is advising reporters to be specific about their diagnosis including examples of symptoms, and avoiding terms that connote pity.

happy kids with teacher in school classroom

It has been said that early detection can greatly improve the lives of those diagnosed with autism by giving them the chance to discover how best to communicate from an early age, thus increasing the chances of a life integrated into society. Stanley Lapidus, founder and CEO of SynapDx Corp., attended the Autism Speaks conference and provided some insight into his company’s development of a blood test that may make it possible to diagnose autism at an earlier age. According to Lapidus, each year behavioral screening flags nearly a half million American children as possibly affected by autism. The blood test could potentially identify 90 percent of children on the autism spectrum by age three, helping to improve outcomes for these individuals.

Rosalind Picard, Sc.D., chief scientist for Affectiva, shared the development of “Q Sensor” technology, which recognizes emotion. Parents and teachers may soon be able to intervene prior to seizures or other emotional outbursts. The device may also help researchers gauge the effectiveness of behavioral interventions.

There’s a lot going on in the autism community. It’s exciting and inspiring to see the changes and developments we’re making as a society to accommodate the needs of individuals who learn and communicate in alternative ways. It’s not wrong, it’s just different and we can all learn from that.

What developments have you seen recently? Is your child’s classroom integrated with learning styles of various kinds? Share with us!