Special Education Tech Startup and Harvard's Boston Children's Hospital Partner on Autism Education

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Special education tech startup SpecialNeedsWare partners with Harvard's Boston Children's Hospital on a language curriculum for those with autism and other developmental disabilities.

SpecialNeedsWare and Harvard's Boston Children's Hospital Establish Partnership

This partnership has tremendous potential to improve the daily lives of millions of families with special needs.

SpecialNeedsWare, the creators of AutisMate - the award-winning technology platform for autism - have partnered with Boston Children’s Hospital - Harvard Medical School’s renowned pediatric teaching hospital - to revolutionize communication and language development for those with autism and other cognitive and linguistic disabilities. SpecialNeedsWare will soon be integrating Boston Children’s Hospital’s Visual Immersion System (VIS), a first-of-its-kind visual language curriculum and support system, into their special education technology platforms.

VIS aims to teach language concepts visually and move beyond traditional means and models of visual communication that lack the ability to provide a true comprehensive understanding of language. The methodology was developed after decades of groundbreaking research and experience in the field by Dr. Howard Shane, Director of Boston Children’s Hospital’s Autism Language Program and Communication Enhancement Program.

“Many of our patients who go through the clinic and have participated in VIS are beginning to speak because we use such an immersive approach early on to developing language by using visual supports,” says Dr. Shane.

Autism is a developmental disorder that is characterized by impaired communication and social interaction. The CDC estimates that 1 in 50 children in the United States are diagnosed with autism and almost half of those on the autism spectrum do not develop enough natural speech required for their regular communication needs. While many on the autism spectrum face challenges with verbal communication, their visual learning abilities tend to be relatively strong, heightening the need for a program like VIS. “Dr. Shane’s vision is closely aligned with that of SpecialNeedsWare,” says Jonathan Izak, CEO of SpecialNeedsWare. “Both of our teams have worked tirelessly to create innovative technology products and services to provide a result-driven visual means of communication that is personalized to the abilities of each learner and truly comprehensive in supporting all areas of that learner’s life.”

Dr. Shane became the head of SpecialNeedsWare's advisory board in 2012 and was an integral part of the product development team that collaborated with hundreds of leading experts, professionals, parents and individuals with autism to launch AutisMate.

SpecialNeedsWare will also be developing instructional training videos to guide the proper implementation of VIS strategies within AutisMate. These videos will feature Dr. Shane alongside several Clinical Specialists with an expertise in programming and integrating AutisMate within a classroom environment.

“We are incredibly excited to be working with Dr. Shane and his team at Boston Children’s Hospital. This partnership has tremendous potential to improve the daily lives of millions of families with special needs,” Izak notes. “Dr. Shane has been such a visionary leader in the field, guiding the teaching of language to those with developmental disabilities for decades. We are proud to support his mission by continuing to create game-changing technology for those with special needs.”

About SpecialNeedsWare

Jonathan Izak founded SpecialNeedsWare with the goal of creating a solution to help his younger brother, Oriel, improve communication. Years of watching Oriel struggle to express his wants and needs using all of the existing technology and interventions available was frustrating and heartbreaking for Jon and his family. After more than a year of development, SpecialNeedsWare launched AutisMate – the only comprehensive mobile-based technology platform that provides a suite of visual supports to assist in the learning and development of communication, behavior and life skills. AutisMate's results with Oriel exceeded all expectations, inspiring Jon and SpecialNeedsWare's vision of providing a pathway to independence for those with developmental disabilities.

To learn more about SpecialNeedsWare and AutisMate, visit: http://www.autismate.com/.

About Boston Children’s Hospital

Boston Children’s Hospital is one of the largest pediatric centers in the United States and is known globally for its health care services and groundbreaking research. Equipped with a team of world-renowned scientists, first class facilities and the largest pediatric hospital based research enterprise; scientists there are continuously identifying and developing new therapies and treatments for today’s most challenging illnesses.

For more information on Boston Children’s Hospital and the work they do for autism, visit: http://www.childrenshospital.org/health-topics/conditions/autism-spectrum-disorders.

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