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An Assistive Technology Autism Support Device



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An Assistive Technology Autism Support Device Dr Mark M Budnik Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Dr G Scott Duncan Department of Mechanical Engineering Dr Angela S Vernon Department of Psychology Valparaiso University Autism Support Device Autism spectrum disorders are neurological conditions characterized by abnormalities in social interactions communication and imaginative functioning It is typically first observed during infancy or early childhood and follows a steady course without remission or relapse There is no cure for autism and it is almost certainly like cancer many different diseases with many different causes 1 In addition to interaction communication and imaginative functioning difficulties a large number of individuals with autism experience some form of sensory dysfunction 2 Sensory dysfunction may be expressed as difficulty in regulating response to sensory input e g over sensitivity to repetitive sounds under sensitivity to painful stimuli or as difficulty in maintaining attention to stimulation Autistic individuals often resort to repetitive motions or verbal patterns to seek local coherence in a world that to them appears to be horrifyingly random 1 These sensory dysfunction problems can lead to the symptomatic behaviors of autistic individuals Spinning biting flailing of limbs and head banging help them to determine where their bodies are in space They also serve a sensory modulating function allowing patients to regulate their level of anxiety when experiencing sensory stimulation 3 Because of these problems a majority of autistic individuals require long term care and special education services 4 The cost of a specially structured education program for an autistic child is approximately 30 000 per year 5 Nationally the direct cost for the care and education of autistic patients was 35 000 000 000 in 2006 4 During adulthood more than 50 of autistic individuals will require more than eighteen years of Medicaid waiver or



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