For Heidi Krenshaw, mother of a 7 year old Autistic boy, getting him to make eye contact was always a challenge. While taking a break during a therapy session, Heidi and the therapist noticed that he was too fixated on a Mickey Mouse show that he was allowed to watch as a reward, and wasn’t listening to his mother. “I wish I could just put Mickey Mouse up on my face!”, Heidi exclaimed.
Even though that statement resulted from frustration, the idea stuck with Heidi, and she decided to do something about it. She reached out to several engineers around the world, pitching the idea of creating glasses that will show cartoon shows on the surface, which will somehow help children with Autism to make eye contact. She was told it was either not possible or will take millions of dollars to make. Finally, she pitched it to the engineering capstone program at Brigham Young University, where she was matched with six students who would ultimately help make her dream a reality.
The team came up with several ideas, and within a couple of months, created a prototype of the glasses. This is how it works: the therapist wears the glasses that display animation on the lenses. The opacity of the lenses can be controlled by the therapist. When the session starts, the opacity can be set to a 100% so that all the child sees is the animation. Gradually, the opacity can be reduced until the child sees the therapist’s eyes. At that point, the therapist can start with their regular therapy lessons.
These glasses can trigger a response in the child’s brain that can help them become more comfortable with therapists and enable them to sit through speech lessons easily. Heidi thinks that besides therapy lessons, these glasses can help children with Autism connect with others more confidently.
Watch the video below to learn more about these glasses and read the source link for more details.
Source: Brigham Young University