Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Boston Develops Autism App
BOSTON -- Michael Duggan was overturning a table of trophies and jamming his hands into a celebratory cake at a sports banquet for disabled youths several years ago when he met Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. The two hit it off. Now, the 19-year-old Roslindale man and his family are teaming up with key players in Boston City Hall to improve the lives of people with autism, a disorder that robs people like Michael of normal linguistic and social abilities.
Boston, like other cities, is creating computer applications to improve the delivery of basic services, such as alerting public works about potholes. But the most dramatic technical breakthrough at City Hall might come in the field of human services — an iPhone application for people with autism. The app, which Menino aides are helping along, is cheaper, less socially ostracizing, and more effective than other so-called “alternative and augmentative communication’’ devices that rely on symbols, line drawings, and cartoon images.