Autistic Student Creates Emergency Chat App

Emergency Chat: A life-saver at your fingertips

It is Family Game Night and you are involved in a heated game of charades. You flap your arms up and down. Gasping for air, you hope they understand what you are trying to act out so your team can win the game!   These moments of frustration may be a part of Charades but unfortunately is often a relatable experience for people with autism.  In times of emergency, when someone is in dire need of help, they are often incapable of communicating their needs.  

For Jeroen De Busser, a Belgian computer science student at the University of Antwerp, this experience was all too real.  De Busser has autism and while spending an afternoon with friends, he suffered a meltdown.  His friends, armed with good intentions were unable to understand his feelings and needs.

This eye-opening experience led the computer science student to develop Emergency Chat.  The user friendly app is available on Android and iOS.  The splash screen has a base text that explains to the person you gave your phone to that you can’t use speech and want to use this app to communicate. The default text is aimed at people experiencing an autistic meltdown, where their speech centres stay non-functional for a while even after they’ve recovered.

Below are examples of sample text for different situations.

You can then continue to the next screen which has a simple chat client.

Learn more about the app on their Emergency Chat App Facebook Page.

 

 

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College of Dental Medicine awarded $3.4 million grant to enhance Care and Access for People with Autism

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded  Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine a $3.4 million grant to train dentists on the special sensitivities needed when working with patients with autism.

The program will include the development of a curriculum addressing the transition of children and adolescents with autism to adult dental care and aims to increase access to dental care for children and adolescents with special health care needs such as autism.

“Nova Southeastern University is committed to researching and implementing new techniques to help patients with special needs,” said Dr. Romer Ocanto, chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry. “We are excited about this opportunity to make a difference in the lives of so many people.”

Approximately one in 68 children has been diagnosed with autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Average medical expenses for children and adolescents with ASD are $4,100-$6,200 higher per year than children without autism.

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Play-Place for Autistic Children: An Autism Wonderland

What does an amusement park: a school and Michigan’s Play-Place for Autistic Children have in common? The answer may surprise you!

As a parent or caregiver for a person with autism, you realize the importance of a finding the right environment for your child. You become familiar with searching for a barber or dentist who can meet your child’s needs at an affordable price. Often times even close friends and family are confused about the special required, leaving you feeling lost when seeking ways to entertain, service and sooth your child.

PlayPlaceLogoShell Jones, founder of Play-Place for Autistic Children (PAC), understands those scenarios. After her son was diagnosed with autism as a toddler, Jones became motivated to change those experiences for her son and other families living with autism. Jones developed a plan to build an innovative support center in Michigan. Her plan combines the functions and features of amusement parks, schools and therapy rooms for an experience unlike any other. Jones envisions a special Disneyland like environment for children and families with autism. Her dream facility, currently still in development, will feature speciality rooms and environments specially designed to provide a therapeutic experience and accommodate large groups.

Play-Place’s mission is to provide a fun-filled, judgment-free, haven of hope for families affected by autism. Through a unique play-powered environment, we combine recreation and education with a variety of social, occupational and physical therapeutic overtones. Our one-of-a-kind destination focuses on development, life skills, independence, respite relief, resource management and vocational rehabilitation to assist families with the everyday nuances of “living with autism.” Play-Place for Autistic Children’s bottom line is inclusion, acceptance and support. (AutismPlay-Place.org)

The Sterling Heights based center is set to include an Art Studio, a Lego Room, a Swing room, a Comic Laser Chalk Room complete with a Carousel!  You heard right: A Cosmic Laser Chalk Room! Who wouldn’t want to feel like they’re the Terminator while playing with chalk?  Cinema- City, the 48-seat theatre, will screen movies at a lower volume and increased light level, making a day at the movies a more soothing experience for visiting families.

PAC will also provide additional resources for parents and families. Resource Management Forums will connect families to professionals who can assist them in finding autism support services. Other amazing features like Haircut Hut give families access to professional barbers who will provide haircuts while entertaining the children, helping them enjoy the experience. Bistro Coffee Shop will be a space for renewal and resilience; to socialize and share; and to make friends and fellowship with free Wi-Fi, and lunch & dinner menus with specialty diet options (i.e. gluten-free, dairy-free, dye-free) to pamper the Play-Place families. In addition to the entertaining and learning spaces, PAC will provide calming centers, designated to manage breakdowns.
SleepingBeautyCastle

Shell Jones and her team of dedicated volunteers and sponsors are are determined to take her dream of the Play Place for Children with Autism from the blueprints and into reality.  Soon, a child in Michigan will see a picture and ask, “Wow,  is that Disneyland?” And the parent can happily say, “No son, that’s Play-Place” and feel thankful that they don’t have to pay air-fare!

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Father Pushes to Get Autism Awareness Sign

Louis Blazer, a resident of the Town of Tonawanda in New York, successfully convinced the town board to install two signs alerting drivers that an autistic child lives in the area.

Louis Blazer, a resident of the Town of Tonawanda in New York, successfully convinced the town board to install two signs alerting drivers that an autistic child lives in the area.

Blazer said that he and one other family were pushing to get the sign installed because they both have highly autistic children. He said he wanted to protect his son before it was too late, especially since his child has a hard time adjusting to surroundings in order to protect himself.

Many autistic children who wander or go missing are nonverbal and may need special assistance from the community and from first responders.

Last Monday, the Town of Tonawanda finally agreed to install the signs after months of requests. Blazer had tried talking to the police and highway departments, but they didn’t help. Finally, he contacted supervisor Anthony Caruana, who agreed to put the signs up for the safety of the children.

Fortunately, the signs will be installed within the next two weeks. Although it took a lot of effort to persuade the town to install the signs, they could potentially save a life.

The Center for Missing and Exploited Children offers information on why those with autism may wander and has tips for parents, guardians and community members (in English and in Spanish) available online at www.missingkids.com/autism.

For anyone who knows a child on the autism spectrum and is interested in learning more about resources available to help keep track their friends and loved ones, please call The International Center for Autism Research & Education’s Director of Communications & Development Mary Leslie at (718) 686-9600, ext. 1108.

Written By Sejal Sheth

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Autism Could Cost Americans $1 Trillion by 2025

Alarming numbers have been calculated in a new study published online in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders , conducted by Paul Leigh and Juan Du, health economists at the University of California, Davis.

Caring for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the United States is becoming pricier.

Alarming numbers have been calculated in a new study published online in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, conducted by Paul Leigh and Juan Du, health economists at the University of California, Davis.

According to the study, it will cost $268 billion to care for Americans with autism in 2015. In 2025, however, the cost could rise up to $461 billion if appropriate interventions and preventative measures are not better developed or more accessible than today.

Furthermore, autism is becoming more prevalent each year. If ASD continues to rise at a similar rate, it may cost a whooping $1 trillion to care for autistic Americans in 2025.

Various expenses were taken into account to calculate the annual costs, including health services, residential and in-home care. In addition, the fees for special education, transportation, employment support and lost productivity were included in the calculation.

Evidently, these frightening costs indicate a lack in research dedicated to gaining a better understanding of ASD. At this rate, preventative treatments, as well as post-diagnoses care, will not be explored enough to sufficiently improve the quality of life of autistic Americans within the next 10 years.

“The current costs of ASD are more than double the combined costs of stroke and hypertension and on a par with the costs of diabetes,” Leigh explained. “There should be at least as much public, research and government attention to finding the causes and best treatments for ASD as there is for these other major diseases.”

Leigh and Du see a solution that will allow the country to escape from paying such a high cost: investing as much in research about ASD as is available for studies dedicated to understanding and treating diabetes, a cause for which iCare4Autism is committed.

Leonard Abbeduto, director of the UC Davis MIND Institute, notes that funding is not only necessary for research.

“We also need to ensure that all children have access to intensive early intervention; that school-based interventions to support academics, as well as social and language skills, are adequately funded; and that supports are put in place to ensure better post-secondary and vocational options for adults,” said Abbeduto. “Investing in these areas, I believe, will actually reduce the costs to society,” he added.

Leigh and Du hope their calculations will make enough noise to inspire changes. The researchers urge more action to be taken to catalyze notable policy changes. They would like to see earlier identification of autism in individuals in order to lessen ASD symptoms but also increased employment of adults on the spectrum to promote their independence.

According to Leigh, “this approach would ultimately save money that otherwise would be spent on expensive custodial care.”

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