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Autism News Round-Up: Finding Work, Google Glass, and the Seattle Seahawks

As we like to do here, especially when there’s a surplus of autism-related news floating around the internet, is to collect it altogether right here and highlight some of the more interesting pieces of news.

First off, in an announcement that feels perfectly timed following our look at the autism app, Autism & Beyond, a group of researchers at Stanford University are setting upon a new research trial that will see if specific software designed for Google Glass can help children with autism to better recognize and understand facial expressions and emotions.

The study was inspired by a piece of software a student named Catalin Voss built during his first year that could recognize emotions using Google Glass. Several years later, and Voss with the help of a professor and another student have created software that operates like an “interactive learning experience.” Essentially, the software is like a game in which identifying particular emotions is the goal of the “player.” Following a test with 40 children, the team next plans to test their software in a clinical trial with 100 kids.

In other technology-related news, young and older adults with autism in Canada now have a powerful new tool at their fingertips that aims to help them find work. Last week, a new job seekers database was announced that connects people diagnosed with autism with employers looking for employees.

The program was developed by the local Autism Society and Ready Willing & Able. Candidates who wish to be included in the database simply need to go online and fill out an application, which in turn will allow businesses to access and view their profile.

In Canada, it is estimated that one in four adults with an intellectual disability or autism are employed, something that Scott Crocker, the executive director of the Autism Society wishes to change.

“Many individuals with ASD want to earn a living through paid employment that matches their skills and interests,” he wrote in a statement. “This database will allow us to support individuals who face the additional barriers of landing a job because of their autism.”

Finally, in a piece of news that would have fit perfectly in our round-up of the interconnection between autism and football, the Seattle Seahawks and the Seahawks’ Women’s Association have announced a partnership with A OK Autism to provide toolkits to make CenturyLink Field and the games themselves more user friendly for fans with autism.

Included in the toolkits are noise cancelling headphones, ear plugs, sensory toys, a detailed schedule that one can use to keep track of the game, and an identifier badge. The badge will identify the wearer to other fans and make them aware that the wearer has autism, giving them an opportunity to be more patient or help if necessary. With the toolkits scheduled to be introduced shortly, it remains to be seen if other teams will follow the Seahawks’ lead and start trying to make the stadium experience more user friendly for attendants on the spectrum.