What... (i.e. camp, dance class, birthday party)
        
 
Pick a NYMetroParents Region: All Regions   Manhattan    Brooklyn    Queens    Westchester    Rockland   Fairfield    Nassau    Suffolk  

Resources

   

INTRODUCING: AUTISMATE

     Home  >  Articles  > News & Tips: Special Needs
by Melanie Shapiro

Related: autismate, app for kids with autism, communication app for autism, app that helps autistic people communicate,


An NYC computer scientist was inspired to create AutisMate, an award-winning app that helps people with autism communicate, by his younger brother who has autism. Discover how this research-supported tool may be life-changing for your child, too.

jonathan and oriel izak

Jonathon Izak with his younger brother, Oriel, who inspired him to create AutisMate, which Oriel now uses regularly on his iPad

Jonathan Izak's younger brother, Oriel, now 12, was diagnosed with autism at age 3. For years, Izak and his family watched Oriel struggle in a number of areas. Early on, he was unable to perform simple tasks or master critical skills, and he would become easily frustrated at his inability to express himself. “He didn’t have much independence at all,” Izak recalls.

To help him communicate, Oriel wore a dedicated Augmentative and Alternative Communication device around his neck. These AAC devices are typically very heavy and very expensive, costing between $2,000 and $10,000. They’re also challenging to use—ACC devices incorporate grids of symbols and require the user to piece them together, a fairly complicated task with which Oriel, and many others with autism, are not particularly successful.

After watching Oriel struggle with a pricey and ineffective device, the family knew there had to be something better. Three years ago, Izak, determined to put his computer science degree to good use, teamed up with a fellow University of Pennsylvania alum and a number of AAC researchers, behavior therapists, speech pathologists, and clinicians to build the first version of a new, groundbreaking AAC app, AutisMate, for which Izak quickly realized there was a high demand.

autismate app for ipadThe app allows users to communicate visually, helping them to connect with the world around them through scenes or photos that can be made interactive with voice recordings, videos, and picture schedules. This uncomplicated way of communicating reduces the user’s frustration and can result in improved behavior.

A wide range of pre-created content, such as a video that shows the sequence of steps on a visit to the doctor’s office, is also included with the app. Often, those with autism have trouble transitioning to new environments or new tasks, and allowing them to visualize what will happen beforehand can reduce anxiety and frustration. AutisMate also incorporates symbols into the scenes to help users go from only communicating through pictures to building sentences with symbols and understanding categories.

Research suggests that those with autism actually learn skills faster using video models than through live demonstration. Although researchers do not know why this is the case, Izak suggests that “the video is engaging and individuals pay more attention to it, but also that it really simplifies everything and there is no human component involved. You can really break things down and highlight exactly what you’re trying to display, whereas a live person modeling it could be slightly different every time, there are more distractions going on, and [live deonstration] doesn’t really focus their attention on what you’re trying to show them.”

Perhaps the biggest concern for users of AutisMate is that communication through an electronic device could become a crutch and inhibit language development for autistic children. But “the research out there—and there’s quite a bit of it—shows that these AAC devices really advance language,” Izak says. “I’ve seen it with my brother as well.” He stresses that users communicate with the devices while building their own communication skills, and that they learn the meanings of particular symbols rather than solely relying on the devices.

Izak’s revolutionary app has caught the attention of distinguished members in the special needs field, and his advisory team currently includes Peter Gerhardt, Ed.D., director of education, Upper School, for the McCarton School in Manhattan and the founding chair of the Scientific Council for the Organization for Autism Research.

To learn more about AutisMate and how it can help kids with autism, visit autismate.com.

 


Get Your FREE Indoor Activity eGuide!

More News & Tips: Special Needs Articles

Marion K. Salomon and Associates Joins HASC
Bounce! Trampoline Sports Offers Sensory Bounce Time
South Setauket Center Helps All Children Feel ‘Loved to Pieces’
Variety Child Learning Center Opens Second Location
Tips for Eating Gluten-Free at Every Restaurant

Be a good fellow parent and share this with a friend who would be interested
Email Friend

Local News & Tips: Special Needs Sponsors

Homewood Suites by Hilton® Harrisburg-West Hershey Area
5001 Ritter Road
Mechanicsburg, PA
717-697-4900
Stay at the beautiful Homewood Suites by Hilton® H...

Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway
810 Yonkers Ave
Yonkers, New York
914.968.4200
Conveniently located in Yonkers and just minutes f...

Camp Dewolfe
P.O. Box 487
Wading River, NY
631-929-4325
A beachfront camp on Long Island Sound providing s...

Mr. Sandless
Westchester, NY
914-663-W9663
We are the company that invented Sandless refinish...

Kovacs Custom Builders
205 Harrison Ave
Harrison, NY

At KOVACS CUSTOM BUILDERS, we've built our livelih...
See Our News & Tips: Special Needs Directory

local zones

Nassau

Nassau cont.

Suffolk

Suffolk cont.

Westchester

Westchester cont.

Fairfield

Rockland

Rockland cont.

Queens

Queens cont.

Brooklyn

Brooklyn cont.

Manhattan

Copyright 2014 NY Metro Parents Magazine Site Design: THE VOICE