Camera Captures Autism Moments

Web Editor: Donna Lowry

Children with autism often experience unexpected changes in behavior. It’s frustrating for parents. They turn to doctors for help, but explaining that behavior is often difficult. Now, technology developed at Georgia Tech could help.

Ron Oberleitner looks at video of his son on a computer screen and describes what he sees. “He’s starting to look outside here. He’s starting to cover up and he can lay around for hours, trying not to be outside.”

“From a child psychiatric issue, it might be an opportunity to help him move past that. But, to try to describe that to doctors is difficult.”

Fortunately, he has recorded it and other moments with his 14-year old autistic son, Robby. Recording autistic children isn’t new, but the technology to capture moments without continuously recording them is something developed a couple years ago at Georgia Tech’s College of Computing by Dr. Gregory Abowd.

Two of Abowd’s three children have autism. Oberleitner is C.E.O of Caring Technologies. He stumbled upon the idea while developing technology for a family video album. As he looked at video of one of his sons at 1 year of age, he noticed he was fine. Just eight months later, video showed obvious signs of autism that Abowd admits he missed at the time. Looking at the video made him realize how having visual records can be crucial to the parents of children with autism.

What he saw in his son was clear images clearly of his son’s regressive form of autism. That’s when he invented recording technology with a practical use called B.I. Capture. When the parent of an autistic child sees a behavior that a doctor or therapist should see, it’s already over. With B.I. Capture, they can press a button and record the time leading up to the incident and after, and then save it.

“We can now add a little comment right to the part of the video that tells a doctor, he’s biting his fingers here,” explained Oberleitner as he looks at more video of Robby.

When the two parents of autistic children, Oberleitner from Idaho and Abowd from Georgia, met at a conference, they knew they had to make B.I. Capture available to the public.

They know they’ve probably only scratched the surface with technology for families with autism and eventually for other uses in the home. For now, they hope to make a difference in homes like theirs with autistic children.

There’s more information on B.I. Capture and Caring Technologies by visiting their Web page.

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