(For a full screen version click here. Video produced by Will Felder Productions & Photography)

On March 9th, more than 100 leaders who share an interest in autism attended MAC’s Meeting of the Minds Forum.  They came to hear a trailblazer speak about advances in assistive technology that can support people with autism and to learn about MAC’s leading-edge advocacy for greater assistive tech accessibility.

MIT Professor Rosalind Picard, Founder and Director of the MIT Media Lab’s Affective Computing Research Group, spoke about her wearable inventions to a broad audience of parents, entrepreneurs, advocates, policy-makers and practitioners. Picard’s Embrace wristband measures the body’s biometric signals, giving others a greater ability to understand the emotions and stress levels of the wearer. For parents and those who work with children with autism, this wristband offers an exciting opportunity to improve communication. The wristband can also detect seizures and alert wearers and caregivers, so they can intervene.

MAC’s Julia Landau, Director of the Autism Center, applauded the gathering and the dialogue that it fostered, and spoke about MAC’s vision to make Augmentative and Alternative Communication and other technologies more available to the many children and young adults who need it. As one of the priorities of MAC’s Autism Center, MAC advocated for coverage of medically necessary assistive technology through MassHealth insurance, which was included in the landmark Autism Omnibus legislation passed in 2014.  MAC is continuing to work on implementing the law’s requirements.

The goal, according to Landau, is “to make sure that these exciting advances in the field get in the hands of the children and young adults who need them.”

The Forum was co-sponsored by the Friends of the Autism Center and the Nancy Lurie Marks Family Foundation, and hosted by the Microsoft New England Research and Development (“N.E.R.D.” Center).  Co-Chairs, Ann Guay and Susan Senator emceed the Forum.

The Friends of the Autism Center raise critically needed funds to support MAC’s work and host informative gatherings.   Please pass this post along to anyone you think might be interested in joining the Friends.  We are also looking for corporate sponsors for next year’s Meeting of the Minds Forum – if you are interested or know others who might be, please contact Carol Savage, Development Director, at csavage@massadvocates.org.