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Accessibility, Autism, Medical Consultation, Technology

A Look at The Future of Autism Services

 January 25, 2021

By  Debbi Katz

The landscape of autism services delivery and its financing is in such a state of flux that you might say the future is now. The list of technologies that are changing the course of autism treatment is a diverse one. If you are an advocate or have a loved one on the spectrum, it is always a good idea to give hope a boost by marveling at the latest innovations. Look at these nine advancements currently occupying the front line of autism care:

Apps

Mobile and special education apps are so useful in the treatment of autism. One type of app focuses on diagnosis and behavior tracking. This allows families to connect to care and receive an early diagnosis. Another type focuses on educating children with autism by reinforcing applied behavior analysis (ABA) at home and skill development.

Telehealth

The key to addressing the nationwide workforce shortage of Board-Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) and bringing care to rural areas is telehealth. Telehealth is a term applied to health services delivered remotely, rather than in person. While ABA services must be provided in person, BCBAS can benefit from cutting out travel time. While supervising direct treatment, they can serve more individuals and provide parent training.

EEGs and Blood Tests

Electroencephalograms (EEGS) can predict autism in babies as early as three months. They are considered 100% accurate by nine months. Patterns in metabolites are discovered by blood tests, which tend to be 88% accurate. The current shortage of clinical professionals able to diagnose autism may be alleviated, should such tests be approved.

Wearable technology

Here are a few examples of wearable technology that specifically apply to autism. How about headbands that stimulate missing brain waves? Google Glass helps social engagement by providing feedback. Wristbands provide remote monitoring. Weighted vests that apply pressure, which can be controlled via an app.

Robotic aids

Plenty of people want to help children with autism but there is just one problem. They are people. It turns out that robots make children less anxious. A child is more likely to approach a robot. Partnered with a therapist, a robot can teach the child to pick up on emotions, self-motivate, and express empathy.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality gaming is already on the verge of replacing traditional video game consoles in children’s bedrooms nationwide. However, the technology also turns out to be a solution that allows children with autism to exert influence on their environment, increase physical exercise and improve hand-eye coordination. The virtual aspect removes sensory challenges that stem from physical activity.

Fecal transplant

Unpleasant as it sounds, this development addresses some of the least pleasant aspects of being a child with severe autism. These children have a lack of microbial gut biota and a higher incidence of gastrointestinal disorders. Research currently exists showing that a fecal transplant may benefit children with autism by normalizing their gut biome and even improving some of the core symptoms of autism, although it is still in the early stages of development.

Medicine

We must not forget there is always the frontier of medication. At present, two FDA-approved medications have proven able to reduce very specific symptoms, such as irritability and aggression. As for the core symptoms of autism, there are a few promising drugs in the pipeline.

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