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Innovative Technology for Autism In the News


Autism Speaks is delighted to be partnering with Fundación Orange and Fundación Adapta to host the first international conference on innovative technologies for autism, on July 6th – 8th, 2012. The conference, entitled “Technologies for Autism: Tools, Trends and Testimonials,” will take place in Valencia, Spain. Keynote speakers include pioneer child psychiatrist Michael Rutter, M.D.; child psychologist Ami Klin, Ph.D.; and Aberdeen University doctoral student James Cusack, who was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome age 12. For more information, registration and presentation submissions, visit the conference website

Special note: The illustrations created for this conference (see above) are by Miguel Gallardo, who also created the amazing autism-awareness animation Maria's Journey



On Wednesday, April 15, 2009, NBC's The Today Show began the first of a three-day series called "Autism: Breaking Barriers." The segment discussed robots and other socially-assistive technologies as possible interventions for autism. The segment included the work of Nilanjan Sarkar, Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University. Autism Speaks is proud to support the work of Dr. Sarkar (view 2007 Pilot Grant abstract), and also support other advances in technology that help those affected with autism through the ITA - Innovative Technology for Autism Initiative. View the segment here.


Other projects that the ITA is funding (or has funded) involving robots and related technologies to improve social competence in autism include:

2008 Special Intervention Treatment Awards for Shrikanth Narayanan, Ph.D. (view abstract) and James Laffey, Ph.D. (view abstract);
2007 ITA Grant for Patrice (Tamar) Weiss, Ph.D. (view abstract);
2006 ITA Grant for Justine Cassell, Ph.D. (view abstract);
2005 ITA Grants for Cheryl Y. Trepagnier, Ph.D. (view abstract) and Corinna Lathan, Ph.D. (view abstract)

Gregory Abowd's Research

  • Abaris, a digital pen technology, developed by Gregory Abowd with Julie Kientz and others at GATech is supports discrete trial training. Learn more here.
  • A recent Newswire article, published on February 14, 2009 – titled "NIH Study Finds Educators Favor Behavior Imaging Technology for Treating Autism in the Classroom" – reports on "BI Capture", orignially designed by Gregory Abowd, D.Phil., at the Georgia Institute of Technology ( Dr. Abowd is a Professor of Computer Science at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and is a currrent member of the Autism Speaks ITA board. He developed the BI Capture technology in 2005 with start up funding received from the Innovative Technology for Autism Committee (view 2005 ITA grant abstract). BI Capture is a Behavior Imaging™ tool which allows users to document relevant behavioral health events on video via remote control, and later share these images with professionals in remote locations. The technology is currently being developed and marketed by Caring Technologies/TalkAutism in Boise, Idaho.
  • HSI's Gregory Abowd to Showcase Autism and Related Developmental Disability Work at "Computing Research that Changed the World" Symposium. More here.

    The Computing Research that Changed the World: Reflections and Perspectives Symposium is a congressionally-sponsored event seeking to extract lessons and identify future challenges for computing research. It will be held in the Library of Congress on March 25, 2009. As part of the event, Gregory Abowd, along with fellow researchers Gillian Hayes (University of California, Irvine) and Julie Kientz (University of Washington) will be demonstrating their work relating to "Information Technologies to Support the Challenges of Autism and Related Developmental Disorders".

    For more information about the symposium, please visit

Dorothy Strickland

Dorothy Strickland has developed a software program that is truly innovative in its face recognition and face learning activities. The FACELAND program can be viewed here.

Corinna Lathan and Cosmobot

Read the "Robots that Care: Advances in technological therapy" article from the November, 2009 New Yorker, as well as the transcript from a short Q&A with article author, Jerome Groopman.

A recent article (3/10/09) in the Washington post features Cosmobot a robotic device that was funded under a Cure Autism Now ITA bridge Grant in 2005 given to Corinna Lathan, CEO Anthrotonix, Silver Spring, MD.

Anthrotronic, Dr. Lathan and Cosmobot are featured in this article (with a video showing the use of the robot in Carole Semanga-Sprouse's clinic) as well as an article in the Schaffer report ( and AFP (

Matthew Goodwin's research:

Watch a video (from Wired Science) of children with Asperger's syndrome testing a facial recognition software tool developed by the MIT Media Lab.

Read an article from The Boston Globe about iSet – a device helping people with Asperger's or autism to interpret expressions of emotion.

Thomas Keating, a recent ITA grantee:

Has developed picture planner software for adults with cognitive disabilities, including autism, available through

Gillian Hayes' research:
Technology Helps Teach Kids With Autism: Informatics assistant professor designs computer devices to aid instruction, record-keeping.