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Wearable Technology Google Glass Teaches Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Google Glass listens to conversations and prompts the user with an appropriate reply

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Google Glass
Google Glass. IANS
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Toronto, Sep 16, 2017: An app to be used with wearable technology such as Google Glass — a head-mounted display in the shape of eyeglasses — can coach children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in everyday social interactions, new research has found.

A defining feature of ASD is difficulties with social communication — which can include initiating and maintaining conversations with others.

“We developed software for a wearable system that helps coach children with autism spectrum disorder in everyday social interactions,” said Azadeh Kushki, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto in Canada.

“In this study, we show that children are able to use this new technology and they enjoy interacting with it,” Kushki added.

Children with autism spectrum disorder are often drawn to technological devices and find them highly motivating tools for delivering interventions designed to help them.

Also Read: Technology Takes a Major Leap: Self-Driving Boats May Soon Be Reality Because ‘Humans get Distracted, Humans get Tired’ 

The problem with existing technology, however, is that using human-to-computer interaction to teach social skills can have the opposite effect to its goal, in that the user becomes socially isolated.

“The interesting thing about our new technology is that we are not trying to replace human-to-human interactions; instead, we use this app to coach children who are communicating with people in real-world situations,” Kushki explained.

“Children can practice their skills outside of their normal therapy sessions and it can provide them with increased independence in everyday interactions,” Kushki added.

Kushki and her colleagues developed the app, named Holli, to be used with wearable technology such as Google Glass. It listens to conversations and prompts the user with an appropriate reply.

For example, if the user is greeted by a person who says ‘Welcome’, Holli will provide various responses to choose from, such as ‘Hey’, ‘Hello’ or ‘Afternoon’.

When Holli recognises the user’s response, the prompts disappear and Holli waits for the next exchange in conversation.

To assess the usability of the prototype software, the researchers asked a small group of children with ASD to be guided by Holli when interacting socially.

They saw that Holli could complete most conversations without error, and that children could follow the prompts to carry on a social interaction.

In fact, Holli was often able to understand what the user was saying before/he she finished saying it, which helped the conversation to flow naturally, the study said.

“This study shows the potential of technology-based intervention to help children with ASD,” Kushki said.

“These systems can be used in everyday settings, such as home and school, to reinforce techniques learned in therapeutic settings,” she added. (IANS)

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A Study Found That Children Diagnosed With ASD Had A Food Allergy

"We don't know which comes first, food allergy or ASD," said Bao

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Study Found That Children Diagnosed With ASD Had A Food Allergy
Study Found That Children Diagnosed With ASD Had A Food Allergy, Pixabay

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are more than twice as likely to suffer from a food allergy than children who do not have ASD, a new study suggests.

The study found that, among the participants, 11.25 per cent of children reportedly diagnosed with ASD had a food allergy, significantly higher than the 4.25 per cent of children who were not diagnosed with ASD and had a food allergy.

“It is possible that the immunologic disruptions may have processes beginning early in life, which then influence brain development and social functioning, leading to the development of ASD,” said co-author Wei Bao, Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa, in the US.

The finding, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, adds to a growing body of research that suggests immunological dysfunction as a possible risk factor for the development of ASD.

Children
Children, Pixabay

For the study, the researchers analysed the health information of nearly 200,000 children in the US. They were aged between three to 17 and the data were gathered between 1997 and 2016.

The study also found that 18.73 per cent of children with ASD suffered from respiratory allergies, while 12.08 per cent of children without ASD had such allergies; and 16.81 per cent of children with ASD had skin allergies, well above the 9.84 per cent of children without ASD.

“This indicates there could be a shared mechanism linking different types of allergic conditions to ASD,” Bao noted.

The researcher said that the study could not determine the causality of this relationship given its observational nature.

But previous studies have suggested possible links — increased production of antibodies, immune system overreactions causing impaired brain function, neurodevelopmental abnormalities, and alterations in the gut biome, the researchers said.

Autistic Girl
Autistic Girl , Pixabay

Also read: “This is nice it tickles me” British robot kaspar helps Autistic children with social interaction and communication

“We don’t know which comes first, food allergy or ASD,” said Bao, adding that another longitudinal follow-up study of children since birth would be needed to establish temporality. (IANS)