Culture and Society

What is Hacking Autism?
Answered by Jim St. Leger
  • Jim St. Leger

    Jim St. Leger

  1. Jim St. Leger Technology Marketing Manager, Intel’s Embedded and Communications Group


    Hacking Autism is an effort started by HP, and they brought in a couple different folks across the industry from Autism Speaks, John Robison who wrote a book called Look Me in the Eye. John Robison is a -- he's on the autism spectrum as something called Asperger's, and he's perhaps more famous for the guy who put the electronics in the guitars for the rock group KISS.

    So for those of us old enough to know who KISS is, if you remember guitars that had blinking lights in them and flames and fireworks shooting out of them, that electronics was all done by John Elder Robison, who was someone who never trained as an engineer, but due to his Asperger's syndrome, has an ability to visualize these kinds of circuits and technology. So he's participated in this group, and I'm also on the advisory board. And Hacking Autism is really all about using technology again for good.

    Trying to figure out how we can take elements of technology and apply them to autistic people, and especially kids, to help their communication skills and their learning skills. One of the fundamental challenges, especially of lower-functioning autistic people, is they struggle with communication. When you bring things like touch systems, touch tablets, touch PCs in front of them, they quickly can find a way to navigate that and use that as communication device, whether it's simply going out and trying to look at different things on the Web or playing small games that help with brain development or things of that nature.

    So Hacking Autism is all about driving and promoting people that are going to both define what those needs are from an application development and then finding ways to support software developers to create those applications for the good of the greater community.

    More answers from Jim St. Leger »

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