Special Education

8 ingenious innovations helping autistic children communicate


The smooth, silicon instrument helps autistic kids bridge social gaps by letting them harmonize -- literally -- with playmates. Leka plays sounds and music, lights up, vibrates, and even speaks to help engage autistic children in multi-sensory activities. Creators of a new conversation coach for smartwatches want to help decipher nonverbal communication, like facial expressions and gestures, to help children with Asperger's navigate social interactions. While it was designed to facilitate music therapy, the gadget can also help bridge communication gaps between autistic and non-autistic people, giving autistic children a sensory-friendly experience that calms nerves and encourages interaction at the same time.

Brain scans may help diagnose dyslexia

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The study, done with researchers at Boston Children's Hospital, found a correlation between poor pre-reading skills in kindergartners and the size of a brain structure that connects two language-processing areas. Previous studies have shown that in adults with poor reading skills, this structure, known as the arcuate fasciculus, is smaller and less organized than in adults who read normally. When comparing the brain scans and the results of several different types of pre-reading tests, the researchers found a correlation between the size and organization of the arcuate fasciculus and performance on tests of phonological awareness -- the ability to identify and manipulate the sounds of language. The researchers plan to follow three waves of children as they progress to second grade and evaluate whether the brain measures they have identified predict poor reading skills.

Humanoid robot Nao gets emotion chip

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But soccer-playing humanoid robot Nao has been evolving by developing "emotions" under a European project and is now being used in the U.S. in sessions to treat autistic children. It's no surprise that the researchers have also been experimenting with Aibo, including the cyberpup and Nao in a "robot nursery" designed to incubate emotional behaviors. The Feelix Growing project concluded in May, involving eight universities and robotics firms including Aldebaran. "Children with autism spectrum disorder typically feel more comfortable with robots than with other people initially, because robot interactions are simpler and more predictable and the children are in control of the social interaction," CHIP researcher Anjana Bhat was quoted as saying in a release.

Disruption in our Education system is needed. Will Artificial Intelligence be the answer?


A 2014 Gallup Poll puts a positive spin on the rise of Americans' satisfaction with our education system stating that 48% of Americans are satisfied. This is not something to be celebrated. Our education system needs an extensive overhaul. The standards put on all students do not measure a student's true knowledge. The type of testing mandated does not test to students' abilities but rather how well they know how to take a test. Teachers are leaving the profession in droves due to the immense work load, low pay, lack of support and insurmountable requirements to advance student performance. It is nearly impossible to meet all students' needs in a classroom with 22 plus students who have specific individual requirements. In any given classroom a teacher will encounter students with dyslexia, autism, ADHD, dyspraxia, auditory learners, visual learners, English as a Second Language learners, and the list goes on. This does not take into account the required professional development classes, countless ARD (Admission, Review, & Dismissal committee) and IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings to accommodate for each child. Not to mention the many hours of Parent/Teacher conferences to discuss student progress and behavior issues.