In May, Floreo Chief Scientist Vibha Sazawal attended the annual International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) illustrating our commitment to effective research-based learning.
Below are the top five highlights from the conference as observed by Dr. Sazawal:
1. Keynote: Dr. Connie Kasari on interventions for improving social communication
During her keynote address, Dr. Kasari highlighted the key role that joint attention, or shared eye contact, serves as a foundation for language and social communication and how technology can be a great facilitator of communication. At Floreo, we agree that this skills is pivotal, which is why one of first modules is focused on joint attention!
In addition, Dr. Kasari spoke about helping children with peer-to-peer interactions. She and her team have developed a set of materials available to improve social interactions for recess. You can learn more about these materials here: http://www.remakingrecess.org/
2. Center for Autism Research (CAR) at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia presents a new way to collect diagnostic information about social communication skills
Our research partners at CAR presented C-SALT, or Computerized Social Affective Language Task, a 5-minute computer program to elicit vocalizations from children ages 6 and older. These recordings can be analyzed for pitch variation, volume control, word choice, social focus, and more, thus helping therapists understand how a child uses language. You can learn more about C-SALT here:
The researchers at CAR are leaders in their field. We are thrilled to work with them on our first pilot of Floreo’s police safety module.
3. Action for Autism is helping to address international ASD therapy professionals gap
Researchers working internationally emphasized the lack of trained therapists in many countries and thus the necessity for parent psychoeducation and training. Deepali Taneja, from Action for Autism in New Delhi, talked about how there are 15 million autistic individuals in India but only about 700 ASD therapy professionals. Action for Autism offers a 12 week parent training program that empowers parents to lead their own therapy programs for their children. Dr. Sazawal spoke to Ms. Taneja afterwards about Floreo and how our modules could be a useful part of a parent-led skills building regimen.
4. VR therapy app teaches ASD individuals how to ride the public bus
Researchers from the University of Coimbra, Portugal presented a prototype VR therapy app that offers patients with ASD an opportunity to practice riding the public bus. They are using Oculus Rift, which is a high-end VR device, for their initial experiments. One of the most interesting things about their project is they also use biometrics to try to detect increased anxiety, in which case they simplify the VR simulation.
One of the best features of VR is that we can offer a rich, real-world experience, but we don’t have to start there. We can start with simulations without sensory distractions and then work our way up.
5. New German app helps individuals recognize emotions in facial expressions
Researchers from the Humboldt University in Berlin presented their iPad app, Zirkus Empathico, for recognizing emotions in facial expressions. Made with over 80 actors by a professional game studio, the app is beautiful and fun to use. Unfortunately, the app is currently only available in German. For more information, go to http://www.zirkus-empathico.de.