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New technology may help autistic youth communicate better

According to a recent announcement by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, autism rates continue to increase in the United States. The CDC data estimates around one in 68 American youth to be somewhere on the autism spectrum. That makes it the fastest growing developmental disability. 

Autism spectrum disorder is classified as a social cognition disorder because it can interfere with an individual’s ability to communicate, interact socially and learn. Yet autism manifests in varying degrees. 

For example, not every child that is diagnosed with autism will be severely impaired or require assistance from disability programs such as Supplemental Security Income. In very mild cases, the obstacles presented by autism may be hardly noticeable. Such children may even be highly intelligent and only have some difficulties with social interactions. 

Diagnostic brain imaging has shown that brain areas in autistic individuals may not be activated by social interactions to the same extent as in non-autistic individuals. Yet the brain is highly adaptive, so researchers have developed a new technology that creates a digital environment in which participants can practice social interactions. Researchers hope the technology will train autistic individuals to better recognize and respond to social cues. 

In severe cases on the autism spectrum, however, a child may suffer from uncontrollable emotional outbursts and be unable to participate in meaningful communication.  An attorney that specializes in disability benefits knows that severe impairments may qualify for assistance from federal or state programs. Low-income families may also consider applying for Supplemental Security Income, which is available to qualifying disabled individuals without a work history.

Source: Huffington Post, “Insight Into Autism: The Latest Brain Research,” Sandra Bond Chapman, April 3 2014 

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