If you’ve been struggling to get your autistic children to articulate words – or say anything at all, for that matter – this news update is for you. Researchers at Notre Dame have been using robots with autistic children and seeing great results with eliciting speech and even producing spontaneous vocalizations. Part of that is almost certainly because most kids tend to love robots. Some autistic children in particular seem to be attracted to tech-related subject areas. So if your child is obsessed with R2D2 and C3PO to the point at which you’re already making plans to bring your family to Disney’s upcoming “Star Wars” attractions, check out this promising study.
Autism advocacy and awareness has received a boost in the U.S. in recent years. There has also been an alarming rise in autism diagnoses. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 88 children will be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by the age of 8. Although we know more about autism than ever before, much still remains a mystery. Many parents would give anything to be able to communicate with their nonverbal children and ask them how they perceive the world around them. This is one of the many reasons why Temple Grandin is such an influential hero in the autism community.
Celebrities often seem to have the perfect lives (unless, of course, we’re talking about Lindsay Lohan back in court for the umpteenth time). They stalk the red carpet wearing gorgeous clothes, have endorsement deals showered upon them, and take off for luxurious vacations at the drop of a hat. Of course, much of that is careful image branding through skillful market research. But not all celebs are self-centered; many of them also have philanthropic aspirations. Recently, a whole lot of stars supported a charity effort to benefit autistic children. Comedy Central put the charity event together. Hosted by Jon Stewart, the event aired on October 21, 2012. This year’s Night of Too Many Stars raised a grand total of at least $3,718,613 (donations are still being accepted via their website).