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New technology helping children with autism

October 4, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The number of kids diagnosed with autism increases each year. Children with autism often face challenges when it comes to communicating with others, but now new technologies are helping to bridge that gap faster.Simply speaking is just one way to communicate. But interaction may be a better option, especially for kids with autism.

"It's a system to help people communicate with another [person]," said Maria Jose Rodriguez Fortiz, System Informatics.

This "scout" program in Spain relies on special video gaming systems like a Nintendo DS. Kids can learn basic tasks, as well as telling teachers what they want to do, all by touching the screen.

A study in 16 Spanish schools found the program decreased outbursts and improved overall behavior.

"They are less aggressive because they can communicate," said Fortiz.

The 20 Brain Balance Achievement centers in the U.S. offer a slightly different approach.

"The fundamental issue in these kids is that both hemispheres are not linking up," said Dr. Mark Goldenberg, executive director of Brain Balance Achievement.

Emily Kissa has a form of sensory processing disorder -- one brain hemisphere is weaker than the other.

"So the reason it's on her left arm is to stimulate her right hemisphere, her right brain," said Dr. Goldenberg.

Dr. Goldenberg uses goggles and exercise to stimulate her vision, balance and hearing. The goal is to strengthen that weakness through therapy three times a week and better nutrition.

"We feel like she's really come a very long way and sort of gotten to the place we thought she could get to," said Emily's mother, Wendy Sue Kissa.

Emily's mom sees the high-tech method maturing quickly. She can see millions with autism using modern technology to develop themselves in the modern world.

Researchers say video games and robots work better for kids with autism because technology offers more consistent interactions than humans.


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