In this Phase I SBIR project, Koronis Biomedical Technologies Corporation (KBT) proposes to develop a classroom communication aid for students with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Children with ASD often have problems processing auditory information in conjunction with sensory hyper-sensitivity (negative reactions to low-level environmental stimuli generally considered to be innocuous). These disturbances can manifest as hyper-sensitivity to normal classroom sounds and difficulty with concentrating on and processing of verbal communication from the teacher. Studies of auditory processing and perception in ASD show a pattern of results where difficulties appear as the complexity of the auditory information increases. Many students with ASD tend to be visual learners and could benefit from a visual communication/instructional approach whereby adding visual support to the auditory component of instruction would greatly aid the visual learner process audio content more easily. The proposed system includes a set of earbuds (or headphones) used to both reduce background noise and provide a direct audio feed from the teacher and a text display (smartphone or tablet) that provides a real-time closed caption of the teacher's audio feed.
About 1 in 68 children has been identified with ASD according to estimates from CDC's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network. ASD is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. ASD is about 4.5 times more common among boys (1 in 42) than among girls (1 in 189).