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Autism tech initiative nets £250,000

The CareTech Foundation’s donation will help scientists use wireless and virtual technology to better understand disorders such as autism.

A charitable foundation has ploughed £250,000 into an initiative which will use technology to increase scientists’ understanding of developmental disorders such as autism.

The CareTech Foundation has invested the money in the Wohl Wolfson Toddler Lab at Birkbeck, University of London.

This will use wireless technology to study the brain development of children aged between 18 months and four-years-old, including when they are asleep and while they are taking part in games and activitities.

It also uses virtual reality technology to recreate real-world surroundings such as shops or a farm to study how toddlers react.

The lab will build on previous research on babies, which included studying reactions to sudden changes in light intensity.

Increasing understanding

“In the care sector we see the real challenges that come along with developmental conditions like autism and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactity disorder),” Birkbeck, CareTech Foundation CEO Jonathan Freeman.

“Increasing our understanding of how children’s brains develop could make a huge difference to how we help children flourish. Research that allows us to spot signs earlier and improve the effectiveness of interventions could be a real game changer in boosting children’s futures. At the CareTech Foundation we’re all really excited about what the research could achieve, and hugely proud to be involved.”

Professor Denis Mareschal, Director of Birkbeck’s Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, added: “We’re hugely grateful that the CareTech Foundation has come on board. Their support, along with donations from many others, will allow the ToddlerLab to become a reality. The research conducted at the ToddlerLab will help us build on our understanding of a range of developmental disorders and to develop new interventions.”

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