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Are You Ready for Hacking Autism?

This is a guest blog post from Marc Sirkin, Autism Speaks VP Social Marketing and Online Fundraising.

Since our first "hackathon" in October 2011, we've been thinking, rethinking and, err, hacking our way through what worked, what didn't work, and where we want to take the program in the future. I wanted to personally reach out to you to give you an update and to let you know what is going on with the program and what you can expect.

First, while HP remains committed and involved, Autism Speaks is now directly managing the program. We have been hard at work with our science and research team to find ways to evaluate how emerging technologies are impacting those on the spectrum. We are also looking for opportunities to create "translational" technology; technology that delivers direct therapeutic value or impact to those on the spectrum, parents, caregivers and teachers. We're working with our family services department to develop better content to help families find and try new technologies, like our apps for autism page and partnerships.

We've made some major changes to how "Hacking Autism" works. We decided that we should provide you (the community) with clearly defined problems to which we'd love to see technology solutions. Meanwhile, because of the amazing work we've uncovered from around the world, we realize that there are solutions on platforms like Microsoft Kinect, robotic platforms, social networks and much more. What that means is that there is no technology platform requirement (i.e. iOS, Android, etc.) but that you can choose whatever platform you like and develop solutions on whatever platform you want.

For example, a problem statement like this - "Non-verbal, severely affected people with ASD can have a hard time showing doctors, caregivers where physical pain is occurring" could yield a number of solutions ranging from mobile and tablet apps to robotic companions to desktop based "training" programs, caregiver customized platforms and much more. The only limits are your imagination and desire to find ways to solve problems.

This June, in more than 20 cities across the world, you have an opportunity to grab one of the many problems we've defined, or to create your own, build a team and produce a working solution.

Start by visiting our problem page on Random Hacks of Kindness and reading the info we've posted. Then, check out the different locations and start to think about where you'd like to participate. E-mail us at and we'll connect you with a subject matter expert and help you get started. Then, on June 2nd and 3rd, you hack, hack, hack.

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.