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Mobile Apps to Support People with Autism?

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) - When people think of applications or "apps," what usually comes to mind are readily accessible programs that make it easy to play music, choose a restaurant or locate a misplaced car in a parking lot. But apps also are being developed to help people with neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and fragile X syndrome, and their use will be the topic of the next Minds Behind the MIND presentation.

The panel discussion, "Using Technology: A Research and Resource Update," will be held Wednesday, Feb. 19, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the UC Davis MIND Institute auditorium, 2825 50th St., Sacramento, Calif. The event is free and open to the public and no reservations are required.

MIND Institute researchers and clinicians will discuss preliminary observations regarding app use for touch-screen devices, or smartphones and tablets, for people with neurodevelopmental disorders. They are exploring app use to improve language acquisition, social communication, self-management, planning and organizational skills throughout the lifespan. The presenters will include psychologists Maria Diez-Juan, MIND APPs Study coordinator, and Tasha Oswald, principal investigator for the MIND Organization and Self-Determination Apps Study.

Traci Schmidt, special projects director in the UC Davis School of Education's Center for Innovation in Education (EdForward), will demonstrate Navigate Autism, a new website created to help simplify the coordination and management of autism information, treatment and services for families of children with neurodevelopmental disorders. The site offers collaborative tools and is developing an expert system that will provide personalized resources, including treatment and therapy information, designed to address each family's unique circumstances.

Community member Elizabeth Morgan will share her experiences as a family member participating in technology research. The MIND Institute Resource Center, specializing in information and resources relating to neurodevelopmental disorders and related conditions, will be open one hour before and 30 minutes after the presentation.

The UC Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento, Calif., was founded in 1998 as a unique interdisciplinary research center where families, community leaders, researchers, clinicians and volunteers work together toward a common goal: researching causes, treatments and eventual preventions and cures for neurodevelopmental disorders. The institute has major research efforts in autism, fragile X syndrome, chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Down syndrome. More information about the institute and its Distinguished Lecturer Series, including previous presentations in this series, is available at

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