Research Kit – a great tool for Researchers

Some great news from Apple, no it’s not the Apple Watch, but rather a great tool for iOs developers called Research Kit.

Researchers struggle to enroll participants in clinical trials in sufficient numbers, and most measures of autism-related behaviors are subjective. The iPhone and iPad have sensors such as accelerometers, gyroscopes, cameras and microphones. These can be leveraged to collect data e.g. repetitive movements etc.

Apple Research Kit

It helps researchers create apps by providing templates for components such as mobile surveys and behavioral tests that harness the phone’s sensors. This has now opened the doors for researchers to a lot of possibilities in regards to gathering valuable information from iPhone sensors for their studies.

For example if you want to monitor motor skills you can have an app that is engaging and fun for the child.

Informed consent is crucial to these research studies and this can be signed electronically and includes a short quiz that tests the user’s understanding.

On the privacy front,  Apple will not have access to the data. Researchers will have to protect that data after transferring it from users’ phones.

Discovering Emotions with Zeely has built in fine motor skill tasks and If you are a researcher and would like to have a custom app built connect with us and we will build it for you.

Autism on the Hill

1 in 68 children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Early diagnosis and intervention ensures that your child reaches their full potential.

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If you or someone you know is affected by autism, show your support by attending this event on April 1st 2015 from 12:15PM TO 12:45PM. The new 2015 Faces of Autism’ banner will be on display and autism pins will be handed out at noon. Join the conversation using the hastag ‪#‎AutismOnTheHill‬, Follow AutismOnTheHill on Twitter and Like on Facebook.

 

 

Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings – lights up, sound down

Great news for Canadian parents with sensory children. Cineplex in partnership with Autism Speaks Canada have launched “Sensory Friendly Screenings”. This provides families the opportunity to see new releases in theatres with increased lighting, lower volume, less crowds and a designated calm zone – all at a discount!

These screenings will take place approximately every 4-6 weeks on Saturday mornings at 10:30AM. Ticket price is the child admission price for any guests attending these screenings.

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Take a look at the Cineplex website for further details on which locations are offering this service, movies to watch and more.

If you are reading this, take the time to spread the word to the families in your network. Ask them to provide both Cineplex and Autism Speaks Canada feedback on this program so that it will be here to stay for a very long time and increase in scope so that one day it will be a standard offering at all cinemas worldwide!!! Now wouldn’t that be great.

1st year Anniversary for Discovering Emotions with Zeely

This time last year Discovering Emotions with Zeely made its debut in the app store. What a year its been. We are actively being used in over 50 countries world wide and this number is growing!!

Zeely

Our app was successfully used Steps and Strides in their existing social skills program.

I have been using Zeely adventures emotions app with two different social skills group. One group is with 4 year olds and the other is with 6-10 year olds. Both groups have really enjoyed using this app. They look forward to it and can play it independently or with a friend. This app is simple to use so that the kids can set it up, yet educational so that parents/teachers/therapists can incorporate it into therapy sessions. I would recommend this app to anyone who is looking to teach their child social skills

Caroline George, Special Education Teacher/ASD service provider
Steps and Strides

Common Sense Media gave us 5 stars for ease of play and have a detailed review.

The app’s multidimensional approach with visual, auditory, and kinesthetic tools helps kids understand what feelings are and what facial features look like when someone is sad, disgusted, happy, angry, and so on.

Vicki Windman, Common Sense Media

We have some interesting projects in the works and will have updates once details are finalized.

If you are using Discovering Emotions with Zeely, we would love to hear from you. Tell us how you are using it, what tips and tricks you have to incorporate this into your therapy practice, school or home.

Georgia – Special Needs Services

Parent to Parent of Georgia have put together an excellent database for special needs. Searches can be by categories, provider name or more specific by age, hours of operation and accessibility.

Special Needs Database - Georgia

Special Needs Database – Georgia

Fragile Kids Foundation – provides healthcare grants for equipment, ramps etc. They meet several times a year to review applications so check their website to deadlines.

Brain Injury Association of Georgia – Resources and events

National Down Syndrome Congress – Resources and events

gTrade – is an online database where people may list assistive technology items for sale, donation, or things they need. It is for Georgians with disabilities and their families.

DSM-5 and Social Communication Disorder

Way back in 1840 there was a need by the government to classify mental health which lead to the census including the categories; mania, melancholia, monomania, paresis, dementia, dipsomania and epilepsy. Further developments evolved to the publication of the DSM in 1917, which was embraced by the Bureau of the Census. It was called the Statistical Manual for the Use of Institutions for the Insane and was created by the Committee on Statistics of the American Medico-Psychological Association (now the American Psychiatric Association) and the National Commission on Mental Hygiene. The committees separated mental illness into 22 groups. The manual went through 10 editions until 1942.

Today the DSM-5 is short for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. It is a classification and diagnostic tool by the American Psychiatric Association which is widely used by various organizations, clinicians etc. in the field to aid in the diagnosis of mental disorders, health care payments, insurance, policy and more. Although this has been developed in the U.S.A. it is very influential around the world, therefore the update from version 4 to 5 was highly criticized.

DSM-5

DSM-5

The diagnoses of Autistic Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder – NOS, and Asperger’s Disorder has been replaced by a single category entitled Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The DSM-5 includes a new diagnosis, Social Communication Disorder which refers to impairment of pragmatics and is diagnosed based upon difficulty in the social uses of verbal and nonverbal communication in a natural context and low social communication abilities which result in functional limitations.

The DSM-5 does have a large impact on the healthcare and educational system and if you are a parent or caregiver that has been impacted by this version do connect with us and share your story, you are not alone.

Autism Speaks does answer some questions about DSM-5 and they have an Autism Response Team if you need further help.

Although the current version is not perfect we do have to keep in mind that we still have a lot more to learn about the human mind, it’s connection to the rest of the body, geography, environment and more.

Criticism leads to debate which in turn leads us better understanding. So although the experts are divided about the DSM-5, lets continue the dialogue.