Tag Archives: autism

The Battle For The Future Of Autism Advocacy

alttext

The combined third/fourth grade classroom at Seattle’s Academy for Precision Learning (APL) is humming with activity. An inclusion-based private school created in 2007 to meet the needs of autistic children in grades K-12, APL boasts classrooms that accommodate a spectrum of behaviors and learning styles. Most children are seated at desks; one small group of students is working together around a table, while another child with noise-canceling headphones is sitting at the back of the room with an aide beside her. The teacher is giving a lecture about the Battle of the Alamo; children are wiggling and talking quietly to themselves. One child occasionally shouts out random words, but only a handful of the classroom’s mix of autistic and neurotypical students seem to notice.

Beautiful minds, wasted

alttext

IN AMERICA in 1970 one child in 14,000 was reckoned to be autistic. The current estimate is one in 68—or one in 42 among boys. Similarly high numbers can be found in other rich countries: a study in South Korea found that one in 38 children was affected. Autism is a brain condition associated with poor social skills. It has a wide spectrum of symptoms, from obsessive behaviour to hypersensitivity to sound, light or other sensory stimulation, the severity of which ranges from mild to life-blighting. The range of consequences is also wide. At one end, the autism of a computer scientist may be barely noticeable; at the other, a quarter of autistic children do not speak.

Apple shares new short film on autism proves that accessibility features matter

alttext

Apple has released a new pair of videos on its YouTube channel highlighting the effect that technology has on people with disabilities. The video, called “Dillan’s Voice,” features a teenager named Dillan Barmache, a 16-year-old kid who is autistic, and shows how he uses Apple products to express his thoughts.

Mum Of Autistic Boys Creates Dolls That Seek To Encourage Acceptance Of Disabilities

alttext

A mother of two autistic boys has created empowering dolls to encourage acceptance of children with disabilities.

Maria Kentley, from Melbourne, Australia, started the Hope Toys line last year in response to the perfect figures manufactured by the major toy companies.

Her dolls represent a number of disabilities – some are amputees with prosthetic legs, while others have wheelchairs or walking aids.

How To Design For Autism

alttext

Problem: many autistic kids are super sensitive to the sight, sound, and feel of their environment. So when New York-Presbyterian decided to build an early intervention center for autistic children, they needed it designed with their needs in mind.

One in 68 American children have been diagnosed with autism, according to the Center for Disease Control. Early intervention is the most effective treatment, requiring dedicated centers, but autistic children’s hypersensitivity to their surroundings makes designing such facilities difficult.

At Home with Autism: Designing Housing for the Spectrum

alttext

The University of Bristol, the Chicago University Press, has published a landmark book on designing homes for people on the Autism Spectrum, At Home with Autism.  The authors, Kim Steele and Sherry Ahrentzen, have been exploring this issue with rare sensitivity and thoroughness for some years. This 320 page book is a tour-de-force with a thoroughgoing analysis of research and precedent, practical design guidelines, encyclopedic references, and an informed rationale for the importance of flexibility and variety. Kim Steele is a research and design consultant focused on improving quality of life through design. Sherry Ahrentzen is the Shimberg Professor of Housing Studies at the University of Florida.

Buy the book online

Related links

The Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD)

Stanford researchers using Google Glass to help children with autism

alttext

Google Glass’ software learns to identify people’s faces and their emotional expressions — what project founder Catalin Voss calls “action units” —  and then classifies them with specific words. This in turn helps the user recognize other people’s emotions. Autism, which affects one in 68 children, is characterized by the inability to recognize emotions in facial expressions, among other symptoms. This in turn makes social interactions and developing friendships difficult to create and sustain.

Universal Design (UD) is an approach to design that increases the potential for developing a better quality of life for a wide range of individuals. It is a design process that enables and empowers a diverse population by improving human performance, health and wellness, and social participation (Steinfeld and Maisel, 2012). It creates products, systems, and environments to be as usable as possible by as many people as possible regardless of age, ability or situation.