Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Touchy-feely environment helps autistic children

06.10.2004


Autistic children often do not interact well with the world around them; being unable to understand events in their immediate surroundings and lacking any sense of an ability to control or direct events. This inability to interact inhibits their mental development; precisely the problem that MEDIATE was designed to help overcome.

The MEDIATE environment is a six-sided module about five metres across, which acts as a multi-sensory interactive environment for children. Designed for autistic children of primary-school age, the module was built with the help of psychologists from Kings College, Cambridge, and comprises a movement-sensing environment and touch-sensitive panels that react to the behaviour of the child who enters.

Movement and touch-sensitive environment



Infra-red cameras monitor the child’s movement and display representations of his or her figure on two wall-sized touch-sensitive screens, which respond to touch by displaying coloured patterns radiating out from the hand. Other walls have sections in wood, metal, bark and fur, each of which will respond to touch by amplifying any of the scratching or squeaking noises involved in the touching process. The module’s floor is also reactive, and movement across it prompts a range of different sounds from the module speakers.

“The clever part of the design is that the software recognises exploratory-type behaviour, then starts to add to the complexity of the environment,” says Chris Creed of Portsmouth University, coordinator of this IST project. “It processes the input from the infra-red cameras and other interfaces, and reacts by producing steadily escalating variations in the module’s visual and sound responses.”

He explains that autistic children tend to show disengagement from their environment by exhibiting repetitive behaviour, such as flapping their hands. When they are fully involved, this repetitive behaviour disappears, hence the importance of being able to recognise more exploratory reactions.

Very positive feedback from parents

The MEDIATE module is fully transportable, and has been tested on autistic children by the project partners in Utrecht, The Netherlands, and Barcelona, Spain, as well as in Portsmouth, UK. Some 40 children have been tested, with each child’s reactions recorded on video and supplied to the child’s own psychologist for analysis. In addition some 600 people, including a high proportion of autistic children and adults, tried it out at a university open day this year.

The UK National Autistic Society has also held a day-long session with the parents of 12 of the autistic children tested. Their response was extremely positive – most parents were very surprised by the level of concentration aroused in their child by the environment, and the by the length of time they stayed interested.

The module is now being incorporated into a new year-long programme for local autistic children that is starting in October 2004. And several clinics for acute mental patients in the north of England are interested in trying it out, as is a local school with Downs Syndrome children.

Tara Morris | alfa
Further information:
http://istresults.cordis.lu/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht New malaria analysis method reveals disease severity in minutes
14.08.2017 | University of British Columbia

nachricht New type of blood cells work as indicators of autoimmunity
14.08.2017 | Instituto de Medicina Molecular

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>