Some­times without warning, one of the autistic stu­dents in a class­room at the Center for Dis­covery will lose con­trol. He will scream and cry. Throw things. Bang his head against the wall.

The six ado­les­cent boys in this Mon­ti­cello, N.Y., class­room, some of the hardest-​​to-​​handle stu­dents in New York State, cannot explain what is upset­ting them. Unable to talk, they seem to live in their own world.

Matthew Goodwin, an assis­tant pro­fessor at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, is trying to better under­stand their world by care­fully tracking the boys’ move­ments and their envi­ron­ment. He has the boys wear sen­sors on their ankles and wrists that mea­sure arousal levels, while cam­eras mounted on the walls record activ­i­ties in the class­room, with the goal of finding what trig­gers episodes in the boys.

This is one of the early projects in a new pro­gram at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity to develop per­sonal health infor­matics: devices and apps to improve health.

The goal is really to be observing what hap­pens from a patient’s point of view,” said Stephen Intille, one of the program’s founding fac­ulty mem­bers. “Where can we insert tech­nology to make their expe­ri­ence better?”

 

Read the article at The Boston Globe →