IP protection

1 Please provide a short description of the state-of-the-art and/or current trends in the field? How does the result fit into it?
Autism, the most severe form of communication disorders in children, is a multi-factorial disease that appears during the first 30 months of age and is attributed to brain dysfunction. The prevalence of Autism and of diffuse developmental disorders in general is higher than blindness, Down syndrome and is about the same as deafness. The cause of autism is still mainly unknown today. Nowadays, with the advancement of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), Computer-Aided Learning (CAL) is considered as a key method for handling Autism interventions, particularly for young children. 

Our approach is based on a platform that is intended to enhance or mediate the teacher  - child educational process . Including a variety of interaction procedures according to the disability level of autistic, the platform consists of several modules.

2 What is the problem/need/knowledge gap that the research result is responding to? How was it addressed before?
As there is currently no treatment or prevention available for Autism, early diagnosis and primary intervention contributes to the improvement of the developmental process (communication, cognitive performance, social interaction, behavioural skills) and target to the adaptation to the environment. All those are accomplished through educational programs and psychotherapeutic methods.
3 What is the potential for further research?
  • Integration  of physical training component

 

  • Integration of independent living component

 

  • Extend to emotional games

 

  • Emotional neuro feedback

 

  • Exchanging and sharing of well described educational protocols and experiences among supervisors through a semantic portal
4 What is the proposed method of IPR-protection? (patent, license, trademark etc.)
The Ministry of Education and Lifelong Learning has probably the Copyright of the first R&D result from the Educating Autistic Children by Using New Technologies project.  However, since then, the Autism platform has been updated. The R&D result with new embedeed technologies belongs to members of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki following a deed.
5 What are the steps that need to be taken in order to secure the IPR-protection? What is the cost of IPR-protection?
No steps need to be taken for IPR protection.
6 What is you overall assessment of the scientific maturity of the research result?
Scientific maturity stems from the digitizing of the materials and methods, traditionally used by educators in specialized schools. Moreover, the main design philosophy and principles are based on literature findings.

KEYWORDS QUANTITATIVE ASSESSMENT (0-5)

Please put X as appropriate. 1 2 3 4 5
Scientific maturity X
Synergies X
State-of-the-art/innovation X
IPR-potential X

 


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Description

Autism disorder is known to be characterized by a “triad of impairments” :

  • The primary one is the social impairment : an autistic person has difficulties in relating to other people.
  • A second one is the communication impairment : both verbal and non-verbal communication channels are hard to be understood and used by people with autism.
  • Finally, there exists rigidness in thinking, language and behaviour. It is agreed that the common traits of autism are abnormal reaction to input stimuli, lack of human engagement and inability to generalize between environments.

Autism is seen as a mental disability rather than a psychiatric illness and as such it requires a particular education process than can assist autistic persons in learning basic social, communication and reasoning skills. Education can be used as a tool to help autistic persons to cope with the “theory of mind deficit – difficulty in understanding mental states of others and ascribing them to themselves or others”. Successful autism “treatments” using educational interventions have been reported even a decade ago.

The proposed platform intends to enhance or mediate the teacher-child educational process. It is based on various interaction procedures according to the disability level of the autistic person in question. Several modules comprise the platform. Each of them represents a specific learning domain. Namely, there are modules where the child is asked to identify the correct image between two or more images, to put images in the correct sequence (according to time), identify emotions by visual expressions etc.

Furthermore, the more complex modules are in the form of semi-virtual environments. They provide the child with the ability to interact in a safe and controlled way. The theme of each module varies from objects in the normal surroundings, everyday use objects, colours, words etc. The instructions are given either by an affective avatar, synthesized speech in autistic person’s native language (in the specific example – Greek), written in the screen, by the corresponding makaton symbol or a combination of these.

Additionally, the avatar can express emotions depending on the situations, e.g. happiness when the correct image is selected, sadness if not. The instructions and the difficulty level can be personalised for each user. User input/feedback is facilitated by means of a mouse interaction, a touch screen or large buttons attached to the computer.

Equally important function of the platform is the recording of the interaction/education process in a database. Consequently, the educators are enabled with track record of the users’ progress and modify the difficulty levels accordingly. Additionally, an educator may register specific educational or personality data for each autistic person. The printable format of all the records enables easy monitoring and analysis of the learning process. In this way, a longitudinal record may be achieved indicating a ” learning curve”  for each autistic person separately, thereby enhancing and normalizing the educational procedures toward each person’s needs.

 

 

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