Courtesy of Israel21c
In recent years Israel has become a major hub for studies on autism, a neurodevelopmental disorder that is today the second most prevalent among children.
People with autism, which is included in a group of developmental disorders known as the autism spectrum disorders (ASD), have social and communication difficulties that often make it hard for sufferers to leave home and live independently. They often engage in repetitive behavior, and can have intellectual disabilities.
In the US alone, the estimated prevalence of ASD is one per 88 children and steadily increasing. Among Israelis, autism diagnoses have increased as well, from 1,507 in 2004 to 7,344 in 2011 – or 48 out of every 10,000 children.
Israel offers a range of diagnostic, supportive and educational services for families of autistic children, such as the Mifne Intervention Program in Rosh Pina, which treats Israeli and foreign children from infancy to age two; and ALUT: The Israeli Society for Autistic Children, providing services and programs from the time of diagnosis through adulthood.
During April, World Autism Awareness Month, ISRAEL21c looks at 10 ways Israel excels in autism research, as well as innovating products and services for families of children with autism.
1. The BioHug Vest by Haifa-based BioHug Technologies provides hug-like pressure to soothe people with autism. The portable, non-restraining vest works on the proven principle that pressure on certain parts of the body has a measurable calming effect. The vest’s air bubbles can be pumped up automatically according to a pre-defined script, or manually via remote control, while the location and duration of the “hug” can be varied. It’s used primarily in school and therapeutic settings.