Apps for Autism

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Apps for Autism

Summary:
– game called Frankie & Friends
– developmental signs of ASD
– very sensitive to strangers at a young age
– late to walk
– toys – not imaginative play, but rather functional in focus (doors opening)
– loss of language skills when young
– prevalence of ASD – 1%
– causes ?
– complex, involving a range of genetic, environmental & prenatal influences (such as amount of testosterone the child is exposed to in utero)
– ASD has impacts upon the child & developing adult which are profound:
– completing school
– higher education & work implications
– friendship skills
– comorbidity of other symptoms include:
– medical conditions (epilepsy & seizures with unknown aetiology)
– anxiety & depression are also highly prevalent
– aggression & behavioural problems can be very disruptive
– Australian Autism Biobank – AAB study
– now looking to diagnose babies by 9 months
– eye contact
– motor skills
– not pointing
– not responding to their name (may appear deaf)
– no social smiles
[characteristics to look out for in infants]
– they are also examining facial characteristics
– no particular facial features (because ASD is not a single gene condition such as Down’s Syndrome)
– but heads may be unusually large/small compared with the rest of the body
– also slight facial asymmetry
– males with ASD can be particularly masculine with respect to their facial appearance, even prior to the onset of puberty
– Autism is a spectrum condition consisting of many different neurodevelopmental conditions – common phrase: if you have met one person with ASD, you have met one person with ASD
– best treatment:
[if diagnosed under 3 or 4 years of age]
– Applied Behavioural Analysis
– such ABA therapy (which does not work for every child) to occur for 20 to 40 hours per week for 2 years
– improve language & cognitive function
[diagnosis can be slow & involve a number of professionals]
– 1 parent talks about professionals working with their children who looked at the child’s strengths rather than “fixing” them
– AAB are looking at Using Games to interact socially (online in real time) without meeting people
– Minecraft
– Pokemon Go
[such games are more predictable than the complex social world]
– working with developers designing games specifically for children with ASD:
– Frankie (a sausage dog) & Friends
– social communication skills
– paying attention to social information
– emotion detection game (sorting game)[looking at faces before objects]
– follow another person’s gaze (following the dog’s gaze)
– game uses sounds & stars as rewards, & gets more difficult over time
– it uses token rewards (from ABA Therapy)
– [game is being trialled in schools at present]
– parent – says she wants her child to not be made neurotypical & to be accepted for who they are
– how does the game translate into the “real world” & interaction with other human beings

Source: ABC RN All in the Mind | broadcast date: 14 August 2016

Mark Taylor, Canberra Psychologist: 0467 087 300

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