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crumb trail: Home >> Whistle Online >> Archives >> Mar. 26, 2007
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Instant replay technology captures the cause of behavior

Assists caregivers of children with autism and other developmental disorders

Elizabeth Campell
Institute Communications and Public Affairs

Every parent at some point has wished they had instant replay technology to figure out who really started a disagreement between the kids while their heads were turned. Georgia Tech researchers have created an easy-to-use, instantaneous video capturing system called Behavior Imaging (BI) Capture. Designed for use initially by behavioral consultants and special education teachers in schools, as well as by parents in the home, BI Capture allows users to selectively archive an incident.

BI Capture was developed at Tech and is now commercially available. Gregory Abowd, professor in the School of Interactive Computing, researches human-computer interaction — the study of how best to design computer systems and applications to be useful to people.

He was motivated to develop BI Capture because he has two children with autism. He has seen firsthand the need for being able to capture evidence of behavioral problems without imposing any further burden on caregivers.

“As a scientist, I wondered if the therapy sessions my oldest son was receiving were effective because much of the discussion with his therapists about his progress was subjective,” Abowd said. “And, as a parent, I wanted to be able to see what triggered certain behaviors such as tantrums or why some therapy sessions were less successful.”

Once Abowd began videotaping his oldest son’s therapy sessions, he and his research team noticed variations in his performance that appeared to be linked to subtle differences in the way therapy was being delivered. For example, the location of the therapist relative to his child seemed to matter for the teaching of some skills.

Behavioral professionals agree that these details matter, and it is often difficult to gather this evidence without them being there to observe it live. BI Capture, and other solutions developed in Abowd’s lab, simplify the recording practices in support of better communication amongst caregivers. The relatively inexpensive solutions pay for themselves in terms of saved time of professionals and more effective interventions for children with special needs.

Special education teachers find BI Capture useful in their classrooms as well. Whenever they sense an incident or altercation has occurred, they click a button on a keychain remote that tells the BI Capture system to record a pre-set amount of time prior to the button being pressed and a pre-set amount of time after. Later, teachers can review the video of the incident on their computers to see what actions led up to the incident — such as whether another student provoked the situation or something else triggered the event. Teachers can add notes to the system to further explain or comment on the situation for later review.

An early prototype of the BI Capture system was tested in classrooms in a metro-Atlanta suburban school system, and the teachers found it useful to document students’ behaviors, quantify the number of incidents in a week and share the information with the child’s caregivers, rather than relying on memory or hastily written notes.

“I really do feel that the quality of data that [the prototype] provides, along with the graphing capabilities, is invaluable,” says Carina De Fazio, teacher, Technical Assistance for Severe Behavior (TASB), Cobb County at H.A.V.E.N. Academy in suburban Atlanta. “It allows us to ‘see’ things that normally we would not as well as present up-to-date, concrete information to parents about what their children are doing in school. This allows for better, quicker treatment decisions.”

 

 

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