Modern Computer Technologies for Autism

INTRODUCING MODERN TECHNOLOGIES AS AN “EFFECTIVE CARE & CURE TOOL” FOR AUTISTIC CHILDREN: A REVIEW

ABSTRACT

Autism is a permanent developmental disability that influences and affects how an individual communicates, relates and lives with other people. It affects the capability of the affected individual in making sense of his immediate world. From a scientific point of view, it is a neurological disorder that affects the growth of an infant. It comes in both mild and severe conditions. Such conditions indicate that even if all individuals having autism share similar difficulties, the conditions affect each differently.

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Researchers have stepped further in deep technological research in order to find interventions to the menace. This paper review work related to autism in the five top computer domains. The fields include; Robotics, Application & Devices in Autistic Care, Virtual environment sensors & Mobile sensors, and interactive gaming modules used in the current world. This research paper has compared the technological trends in Autism between third world countries and developing countries.

Introduction

Autism begins in infancy and can be described as a permanent weakening disability (40). It affects the ability of the affected person to learn, communicate or even interact with peers (41). The disorder has both mild and severe characteristics that vary in regard to individual behavioral characteristics (42). The disease spectrum of Autism is very diverse and, therefore, requires keen observation and study of characteristics portrayed (11).

Autism Characteristics

Affected individuals have limited communication capability and skills (43). They are not in a position to follow simple instructions given (70), often they repeat words when talking. Also, children have abnormal speech production during any conversation and cannot maintain eye contain or sustain the conversation (44). Lastly, they have no ability to use facial expressions or other spoken language techniques in an interview (45).

Additionally, victims are anti-social and prefer living alone (46). This is influenced by the fact that they have poor eye contact and lack understanding of humanity existences (47). Similarly, individuals who suffer from Autism (58) have small sensory integration giving them either hyper or hypo sensitive senses to some environments (48). They may react to sound, light, and smell or touch differently (23).

Mild cases of autism results to poor language and social skills, while, on the other hand, severe forms exhibit total detachment from other colleagues, poor imitation skills, and self-injurious behaviors (49). In most children, Autism influences their sensitive sensory behaviors, motor development, communication and social characteristics (1).

Despite the knowledge of features, signs, and symptoms, no medicine have ever been discovered to treat autism (50). Medical practitioners have always assured quick adaptation and recovery from autism in young children (45). The only required technique is improvement guidance and special care to protect the victims from self-harm (51). Care gives should work to help the victims adopt socially acceptable behaviors, good mental health, and acceptable personality (52).

According to WHO, United States of America have the highest number of autism patients worldwide (78). The disease became recognized as a national disaster in the year 1980. Community and citizens from various Asian countries (59) and China began plotting awareness about the disorder in the late 1980s (2). Data collected by WHO indicates autism prevalence is at 11.8 per every 10000 people while (53), on the other hand, the spectrum conditions of autism are at 26.6 per every 10,000 individuals (80).

On the contrary, Japan has a higher autism spectrum of 13 per every 10,000 persons (54), this proves the point that even the disease is present in already developed countries such as America and Asia (3). Ignorance have led to increased autism cases in India due to illiteracy among the grassroots communities (4). They just rely on the myth that the signs associated with the disorder will end with time (55). Third world countries are also affected by the lack of proper medical infrastructures for diagnosis and treatment of the disease (15).

Overview of Statistical Analysis of Autism

The Autism Society indicates that; according to research done by the center for disease control and prevention in the year 2014, one percent of the total world population carry autism spectrum disorders (56). Additionally, it indicates that United States have an estimate of one out of every sixty-eight births have autism (6). In 2000, the prevalence of autism in united states increased by one hundred and nine point four in children. This has led to a rise in autism service costs for United States citizens from two hundred and thirty-six million dollars to two hundred and sixty-two million dollars annually (67).

On the same, statistics indicates that Autism adult services have a high charge cost that children. They costs for adults are one hundred and ninety-six as compared to sixty-six billion dollars in children (60). The society, therefore, predicts that in the next ten years, the annual expenditure on autism will have raised to four hundred billion dollars (57). Over the lifespan on human development (18), each person may spend not less than two point four million due to autism as compared to one point four million to an ordinary person (48).

Lastly, it takes more than eight thousand six hundred dollars to educate a student affected by autism (61). Though thirty-five percent of pupils diagnosed with autism do not have postgraduate education nor a job (79).

From the statistics, it’s evident that both developed and developing countries are still struggling to lower the menace (8). To have a more insight on the developments made to cab the vice (62), it was important to review and evaluate some of the developments made (9). Primary focus is directed on latest technological advancements put in place to cure and protect children suffering from autism (27).The 2006 government reports in the United States indicates that lifelong care expenditures may be reduced by sixty-seven percent if interventions and early diagnosis strategies are put in place(30).

Literature Review

Applied Modern Technologies.

Techniques and technologies applied in this field include Application & Devices in Autistic care, Virtual Environment, software, interactive gaming modules, robotics and sensors and mobile sensors (78).

Application & Devices in Autism care are simple computers supported programs that enable first and efficient environmental interaction by children faced with autism (12). Virtual environments are an innovative, eye-catching technology that works in real time and boosts interaction between a child and the immediate surroundings (7).

A Software is computer enabled programmes that enable real-time interaction between a child and his environment; they perform similarly with applications and devices (23). On the other hand, interactive gaming modules are computer enabled games that promote children attentiveness and response to commands (13). Robots are humanoid machinery that engages children with autism as a way of learning social skills. Lastly sensors are devices used for monitoring children with autism behavior and characteristics (9).

Virtual Environment

Virtual environments have been used in Autism conditions to assist introverted children or adults (19). Virtual environments can be classified as either visual pictures showcases or non-visual showcases (16). A good example of virtual environments is haptic and sound related messages that can be used to inform patients or clients their location in a given space or environment (33).
According to Moreira de Costa et al,, virtual environmental can be used for cognitive rehabilitation of Autism patients (27).

Additionally, Yufang Cheng also presented research on the importance of virtual environments on victims having avatar emotions representations (20). The collaborative virtual environment is a great asset for people with autism (34). From the results achieved, it was clear that people with autism that had problems in communication responded positively and regularly communicated through the collaborative virtual environment (11).

Video modeling has also proved to be a crucial part in modeling children. It has played a major role in impacting social skills in children with Autism during teaching (78). Video modeling have been offering experimental platforms to text children with autism ability to concentrate in real life situations. It achieves its goals through impacting social cues on developing children who are suffering from autism (81).

Variously, Konstantinidis designed a framework that applied the semi-virtual environment strategy for enhancing education in children suffering from autism (12). The framework had the capability of providing sharing emotions and demonstrating understanding (42). Virtual environment has the ability of engaging and quantifying the physiological nature of autism’s victims to concentrate in a given situation. They also have the capacity to improve individualism in autism victims as a way of boosting social communication skills (66).

A researcher named Yiyu Cai et al. developed and designed a virtual dolphinarium to help autism. The dolphinarium was intended to help children with autism learn nonverbal skills in communicating (45).

Robotics and Virtual Reality Tools

In the modern world, robots have been designed to solve many problems intelligently (68). According to Fasel, Ian et. Al motivation learning among autism children can be achieved through interactive learning (69) that can only be made possible through robots contingency learning (13). Robotic learning promotes development and social learning in toddlers and infants with or without any developmental challenges (76).

Infant’s development is influenced by interactive sessions with caregivers; similarly interaction of children with autism with preprogrammed (24) robots would ensure maximum development and achievement of social instructiveness in such children (34). Robots help in changing children behaviors through the behavior modeling techniques pre-coded in the robot (17). Additionally, robots have been used in performing therapeutic massages (71) on children that need of joints attentions (21). The robot is set in a way that it maintains the goal-oriented behavior interaction between the children and the environment thereby promoting active learning in children with autism (75).

In reference to Picard, R. W robots have the capability of learning from people (67) and helping other individuals learn emotionally intelligent skills as a way of improving (68) and empowering autism children with non-verbal learning impairments (59). On the other hand, Ma’sum developed an intuitively controlled system that promotes gesture use in children with autism (16). The robot acts as a human tutor and engages the children in imitative gesturing as a way of building communication (23). Lastly, Qidwai, U. et al. conducted as in-depth research on fascinating robots that parents and caregivers can use as a way of offering therapeutic activities to children with autism (32).

Software Devices and Application in Autism Care

Software devices and application can be desktop based or web based. Software applications can assist children in autism in learning (14). Computer tools help in emotion recognition and improving social skills. Webcams are also used in monitoring and evaluating performance of children with Autism (3).

Similarly, app design project, (Fletcher-Watson, Pain, Hammond, Humphry & McConachie, 2014) the research team further collaborated in knowledge exchange activities (35). With the app developer who licensed the finished product and released it to the market (39). An essential element of this enlightening process was the discussions around (67).

Which features the developers wanted to change in order to make the app consumer-ready and which we felt it was not possible to change without impairing its therapeutic potential?(38). For example, changing the menu design to create a better interface for parent users was fine, but adapting the reward animations to fit with the house style of the developer was not (22).

They mainly focus on color recognition and detection thereby improving children reasoning and decision-making skills (61). Additionally, computer software have been found to promote individualism (34); it boosts identity, personal choices and roles of involved building individual personality (66).

Lastly, Computer software’s have also build in systems that promote communication skills and instructiveness by autism affected children (52). The software can be used on tablets, phones, and desktops, they are portable therefore caregivers and teachers can carry the whenever they move (45).

Interactive Gaming Modules

Gaming modules have been for long used in engaging children interactive nature (19). According to Makino, T et al., gaming modules stimulated children understanding among their peers (39). Gaming has also involved children in interactive commands where the child must be attentive to win the game (71).

Such gaming plays the role of developing strength and understanding among autism children (77). Gaming modules have the ability to improve performance modalities of the users (74). They help children in inhibition, initiative, and planning as a way of boosting personal development (78).

Gaming improves autism victims’ expressiveness and identity in adults and children suffering from Autism (73). A research named Rahman, M. M developed a computer enabled game that was mainly intended to increase intelligibility in children suffering from speechlessness (14).

The game was reviewed by the Autism Welfare Foundation and declared crucial in improving communication skills in children suffering from Autism (3). Autism children have the inability in actualizing the importance of things in life, e.g. Money (79). In that case, Hassan, AZ et al. developed the money concept gaming that aimed at improving the need of children understanding the time value of funding (45).

Lastly, gaming modules are important life booster in children development as they help in building children personality behavior (67) and individualization to help the affected child fit in with other peers (81).

Sensors and Mobile Sensors

Sensors are electronic gadgets that locate changes and occasions happening due to temperature or environmental change (10). A good example of sensors includes the thermometers used in measuring the changes in children having mental disorders (69). Minnen, D a research in the field of human development (33), designed an on-body sensor aiming at censoring and recording human activities such as gestures (67). The sensors play a significant role in observing daily behaviors of children suffering from autism (66).

Records from the sensors are then used by parents and medical practitioners in defining intervention to children affected in relationship to their characteristics (76).Leijdelkkers, P. et al. designed a mobile application known as “CaptureMyEmotion” that enabled autistic children to take videos, sounds and photos (12).

The application used wireless sensors (45) and thereby giving children involved time to comment (56) on the emotions and time of capture of every picture (62). The application has been a better interaction platform between children with autism and their immediate environment (80).

Conclusion

The world is currently focusing more research and resources towards care, cure and protection of autistic children (32). Though, as time goes more and more children are living with distress and failed future in the grassroots (72). The virtual technology has brought up the 7D, mobile technologies, and virtual environments to help cab the Menace (5).

Community empowerment and capacity building are also vital components in eradicating the disease (63). From the above review, it clear that much have been done in improving life for children suffering from autism (31). Though, much more energy and effort and creativity are needed to have a smooth and free flowing direction in reducing the autism prevalence (49).

The appropriate response will depend on the stated goals of the technology and its potential uses (28). Though the technology has grown, simple and affordable applications should be introduced to cater for parents who are sinking in poverty (29). It is reasonable to expect such technologies to provide a rigorous (66) evidence base to support such a bold therapeutic claim (27).

On the other hand games that offer enjoyable activities to supplement classroom learning of, for example (64), algebra or spelling might not require such formal evaluation (26). In these cases, consumers are much more in need of ways to distinguish between software (or hardware) options that superficially seem to do the same thing (65). The focus here must be on providing rapidly available and widely accessible information of relevance to the user community (55).

Major problems that may be experienced during implementation of these advanced technologies includes lack of awareness (25). Caregivers, parents, and teachers must be educated with the available tools (36) or techniques that can help cure or protect victims suffering from autism (9). Most developing nations are suffering from medical infrastructural unavailability (21). The government must take charge in improving infrastructure and filling the gaps to ensuring reduced and controlled spread of autism conditions (69).

Lastly, educational environments should be revolutionized (37) to incorporate all the technologies in providing maximum improvements to all children suspected of having autism characteristics (22). Teachers must offer equal care to every child regardless of their race, gender or social class (23).

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