New York, N.Y. (June 30, 2011) – Autism Speaks, the world’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, and the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism have joined HP’s “Hacking Autism” initiative, which seeks new ideas for touch technology applications beneficial to people with autism. “Hacking Autism” will crowd source ideas for applications from all across the autism community, including families and practitioners, and will engage developers and designers to voluntarily create applications across touch-based platforms. The “Hacking Autism” innovative designs aim to facilitate and accelerate technology-based ideas to open up learning, communication and social possibilities, and to help give those with autism a voice.
“Innovations in technology are moving forward the race to find solutions to improve daily life for individuals with autism,” stated Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D. “Input from the community will accelerate designers and innovators’ creative thinking to best apply technology to autism in a way that has the potential to make a significantly positive impact for individuals with autism where they need it most.”
“Technology has the power to improve lives, and our hope is to work with the developer community to find ways that technology such as touch-enabled computers, tablets, and software can advance communications and learning experiences for individuals with autism and their families,” said Phil McKinney, vice president and chief technology officer of the Personal Systems Group, HP. “We are excited that the Autism Speaks and the Flutie Foundation organizations are joining HP in supporting HackingAutism.org.”
Together, the groups announced the appointment of the Hacking Autism Advisory Committee, which will select for development ground-breaking, touch-enabled applications submitted by the autism community for the autism community. The committee is composed of leading technology and autism experts, including McKinney; David Canora, principal technology specialist, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, and chairman, Quest Inc.; Chris Mertens, vice president, HP; Autism Speaks Vice President of Scientific Affairs Andy Shih, Ph.D.; Simon Wallace, Ph.D., Autism Speaks director of scientific development Europe; Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president for programs and services; renowned advocate and author John Elder Robison; Jim St. Leger, Technology Marketing Manager, Intel; and certified speech and language pathologist and advance clinician Kate Grandbois, M.S., CCC-SLP, Spaulding Outpatient Center for Children.
“So many individuals with autism who struggle with verbal communication are able to open up new doors to social interaction when they are able to use tools such as touch applications,” explained Canora, who is also dad to a son with autism. “Parents are always looking for new strategies to engage their children with the people and world around them and technology has so much potential to do that.”
“We are so pleased to partner with HP and the Flutie Foundation,” added Dr. Wallace. “Autism Speaks has been committed to innovations in technology to creatively adapt and promote the use of technologies to meet needs of those with autism. ‘Hacking Autism’ will significantly accelerate translational technology, from bench top to commercial development.”
"We're excited to partner with HP and Autism Speaks on this cutting-edge project," said Doug Flutie, co-founder of the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism. "Through our Laurie Flutie Computer Initiative and our long-time partnership with HP, we have been able to assist hundreds of families and schools by providing them with computers. ‘Hacking Autism’ will allow the autism community to directly communicate their ideas with HP on what its needs are for technology. It's not often that a mom or dad, or a teacher who works with a child with autism, gets to tell a software designer what type of tools they need to enhance their loved one’s life. We feel that this type of collaboration has the ability to really improve the learning and communication experience for people on the autism spectrum.”
“Hacking Autism” will culminate in October 2011 at the HP Hackathon and the new technologies developed will be included in its library of applications.
Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 110 children in the United States, and one in 70 boys. The prevalence of autism has increased 600 percent in the past two decades. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.
About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world’s largest autism science and advocacy organization. Since its inception in 2005, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $160 million to research and developing innovative new resources for families. The organization is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. In addition to funding research, Autism Speaks has created resources and programs including the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network, Autism Speaks’ Autism Genetic Resource Exchange and several other scientific and clinical programs. Notable awareness initiatives include the establishment of the annual United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, which Autism Speaks celebrates through its Light it Up Blue initiative. Also, Autism Speaks award-winning “Learn the Signs” campaign with the Ad Council has received over $272 million in donated media. Autism Speaks’ family resources include the Autism Video Glossary, a 100 Day Kit for newly-diagnosed families, a School Community Tool Kit and a community grant program. Autism Speaks has played a critical role in securing federal legislation to advance the government’s response to autism, and has successfully advocated for insurance reform to cover behavioral treatments in 26 states thus far, with bills pending in an additional 12 states. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 80 cities across North America. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.
About The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism:
The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism, Inc. was established in 1998 by Doug Flutie and his wife, Laurie, in honor of their 19 year old son, Doug, Jr. who was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. The Flutie Foundation’s mission is to support families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder. The Foundation is committed to increasing awareness of the challenges of living with autism and helping families find resources to help address those challenges. We provide individuals with autism and their families an opportunity to improve their quality of life by funding educational, therapeutic, recreational and advocacy programs. For more information on The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism, please contact Jamie Giller at the Ebben Zall Group at (781) 449-3244, or visit www.flutiefoundation.org.