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Hope on the horizon: Mitigating Autism

MIT faculty and researchers offer their thoughts on potentially life-altering
technologies that lie just around the corner.

Rosalind W. Picard

Professor of Media Arts and Sciences

An estimated $35 billion in direct medical, direct non-medical, and "lost productivity" costs are spent each year to care for children diagnosed with autism and related disorders in America. Beyond these financial costs, however, is the enormous opportunity cost incurred by not enabling these individuals to become full participants in society.

My students and I are building new technologies to enable people diagnosed with autism--now 1 in 150 American children-- to be able to communicate better and have better independent and interdependent living skills. These technologies are also likely to have some application for people with Parkinson's, sleep disorders, non-verbal learning disabilities epilepsy and other problems.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 21, 2008 (download PDF).

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