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The Importance of Socialization for Children on the Spectrum

For children diagnosed on the autism spectrum, socialization can be challenging, attempting to interact with and socialize among other individuals without necessarily understanding or having an acute awareness of the cues and communication devices one might use in such circumstances. Children like Oliver, who lives with both autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and profound hearing loss, can find themselves in potentially uncomfortable situations as a result. Oliver, who traditionally communicates through sign language, will ask children to play by brushing up against them for attention, and sometimes by hugging them without notice. Parents like Oliver’s father, 43 year old James Carner, have grown accustomed to taking a defensive position on the issue, choosing to explain his son’s behavior to others in an attempt to make encounters as less awkward as possible. As a result, there can be…

Theater festival specifically for audiences with autism coming to NYC in 2018

The excitement of the theater is often a welcome escape from the worries of the world, transporting audiences to distant lands and ancient times through the power of immersive imagination. While many productions seek to do so through flashy visuals and booming audio, it’s precisely the opposite experience that the creators of the Lincoln Center’s forthcoming Big Umbrella Festival wish to offer their intended audiences; those with autism. Debuting in April 2018, the festival organizers intend to provide a safe space for entertainment, education, and inspiration, extracting the less inviting aspects of theater that might otherwise distract or overwhelm those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), instead favoring an experience that nurtures and soothes by reducing the presence of jarring sounds and frantic lighting. Instead, they are incorporating areas designated for quiet and activity in…

Robotic Hands Reaching Rural Minds

For families eager to meet with autism specialists, wait times have become a persistent and taxing issue. In many cases, waits can even be sustained over a year. In addition to the dilemma, there’s also the concern of children with autism who live in more rural communities, where travel costs, even for healthcare reasons, can quickly become expensive. Several programs have been established, and strides taken to address this issue, which RoboKind intends to participate in solving through their Robots4Autism program. Robots4Autism could be used as a contingency along with other efforts, such as the University of Missouri’s ECHO Autism program, which has been conceived to train primary care givers in the methods of diagnosis and management related to autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Along with the proposed expansion of ECHO, with additional sites in rural areas of Alabama, Alaska and…

Learning Financial Literacy Empowers Young Adults with Autism

The world of adulthood can quickly become an intimidating notion for anyone, let alone children and young adults with autism. While several services dedicated to development and nurturing are provided during childhood, the more than three million Americans estimated to be diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) ultimately age out of such programs, often becoming anxious when faced with newfound responsibilities, particularly concerning finances. From paying bills to filing taxes, the importance of integrating financial management into the early education of learners with ASD becomes abundantly clear as a means of empowerment for these young men and women preparing to set foot into a larger world. Nancy Cheak-Zamora concurs with the idea based on the research she conducted as assistant professor in the School of Health Professions. After interviewing individuals with autism…

Superheroes pitch in to make 5k for autism a success

Superheroes are often presented as larger than life figures who give of their time and power to pull us up with helping hands. We, ever thankful, repay their generosity by striving to emulate their example, becoming even better than we ever thought we could be. That was precisely the idea for the Live Learn & Play’s Superhero 5K for Autism 2017 run and 1-mile walk, recently held at Lehigh Parkway in Allentown. That Sunday morning was populated with some 600 participants of all ages; those with autism, those without, family and friends, proving that anyone can truly be a hero. Runners and walkers alike dawned capes and shirts with the iconic Batman and Superman emblems while other characters were equally represented, including Wonder Woman, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Mighty Thor, and one 9 year old Captain America. Organized by Live Learn & Play, a nonprofit…

A Golden Plan for Golden Years

Children with autism have a number of resources and programs at their disposal, both in and out of the classroom. However, many of these children can find access to such assistance harder to come by once they get older. Fortunately, one program located in Pensacola is striving to provide assistance specifically for older people with developmental disabilities. Intended for seniors ages 55 and older, the ARC Gateway Senior Adult Program caters to the various needs of men and women who, according to Program Manager Janet McIndewar, live with “hearing impairment, speech impairment, autism” and a number of unspecified diagnoses, because “at the time they were growing up there were no screenings.” The ARC Gateway Program began at the Bayview Senior Center in Pensacola, which still acts as a “home base” for most people who are a part of the program. The criterion for being at the Bayview…

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Joins Milo at Shady Lane Elementary

At Shady Lane Elementary in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel joined Logan Lucas, a student in the Robots4Autism program who has shown remarkable improvement since Milo joined Karen Richie’s special education class. Logan struggled to express his needs and was often frustrated. He would have several incidents a day for hitting and biting others. “I had staff people that wanted to wear long sleeves,” Richie told the Journal Sentinel. “He was just so difficult to work with, initially.” Menomonee Falls Superintendent Patricia Fagan Greco was introduced to Milo and Robots4Autism, a program that helps children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) develop social and emotional skills, during a workshop. Working with RoboKind, the creators of Milo, the district was able to bring Milo into two schools on a pilot program. Both schools, Shady Lane…

Sensory sensitive conditions in the digital age

Sesame Street, which has brought to life many issues throughout the years has recently done it again.  In April they introduced Julia, the first Muppet with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  Even before debuting on screen, Julia made an impact, by  helping to show findings from a Georgetown University study that showed the positive impact of digital videos and eBooks in empowering ASD kids and parents. With a lot of misconceptions in the world about autism and those affected by it, researchers and developers have taken on a new level of responsibility to help educate the public, and find ways to positively impact those who have it. According to Sherrie Westin, EVP of global impact and philanthropy at Sesame Workshop, “The original strategy for Julia was to create her as a digital Muppet with online videos and eBooks (through their See Amazing in All Children website), because we knew…

A farm in Iowa is setting up adults with autism for long-term success

Finding employment isn’t easy, and it can be even harder for those with disabilities. Those that suffer from autism-related symptoms are among a large group that struggles to find meaningful or gainful employment. In Iowa, The Homestead, an organization that focuses on building inclusive communities for people with autism, created a farm program to tackle the job issue by training people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in how to manage a farm. “On this farm, what really matters is how a person grows — not what they grow,” Angela Book-Glynn a director at the Homestead told The Des Moines Register, an Iowa publication. The farm currently has four autistic men working in the program. Their day-to-day responsibilities include planting, harvesting produce, and boxing them up for Homestead’s CSA pickup locations. The goal of the program is to give people with ASD an opportunity to join…

Closing The Gap runs a featured piece on Milo and the Robots4Autism program

Closing The Gap, an online publication showcasing the latest in assistive technology, recently ran a featured piece on Milo and the Robots4Autism program. The article highlighted many of the benefits that RoboKind’s incredible product provides for children who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The Robots4Autism program targets the known challenges that people with ASD face with social interaction, emotional understanding, and self-regulation. The curriculum targets these areas with the help of Milo, a socially advanced robot, whose expressive face helps ASD students learn facial expression. Through a series of interactive tablet lessons and Milo’s 20% slower speech, ASD learners can practice communication, develop techniques to help keep control of their emotional responses, and learn how to react properly in different situations. The program has seen great success with schools that…

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