The Best of Our Knowledge # 996



This is the personal story of parents who have a son with autism. They are now using new technologies to help improve their family communication. And it turns out their efforts could have widespread impact on the special needs community at large.

Dan Tedesco and his wife, Carey, have a 4 and one-half year old son, Evan. At 19 months, Evan was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The Tedesco's started with the usual state assisted therapies which included devices like flash cards and carrying around large boards. These tools are obviously bulky and cumbersome, and in some public situations difficult to manage.

As the old saying goes, necessity is often the mother of invention. Tedesco is now the Founder and CEO of Handhold Adaptive, a Connecticut-based software development firm. His company has developed portable software that works on iPhones and the iPod Touch. The customizable communications tool provides visual structure for those with language and behavioral challenges including autism, Down syndrome, ADD and ADHD. In a future story in coming months, we'll have an update on how iPrompts may also have applications for other disabilities like traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer patients.

Glenn Busby reports. (6:27)

**(Listeners please note. For more information about this story, or to view a demonstration video online, visit their website at: )**


Part Two: Meeting the Astronaut, Human vs. Robotic Exploration, Career Connections, and Assessing the Value -

This was the second consecutive year that Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was chosen as one of just a handful of institutions in the US to host the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp. The camp stresses investing in today's youth to prepare them for careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Last week, we met the middle school students who were all part of the science camp's winning team. We talked about their winning project, the classes they took, and the field trips they went on. If you would like to hear last week's program, it's available online at:
Click on TBOOK Show # 995.

This week, we learn about the tremendous time the students had with astronaut, Dr. Bernard Harris. Plus, we talk with their teacher, camp director, and find out what this experience meant to one of the parents.

The winning team proposal was "A Mission to Europa: The Search for Life Beyond Earth." Team members are: 7th graders - Ashley Daniel and Nick Bondi, from Knickerbocker Middle School in Troy, NY; 6th graders - Claire Moylan from St. Mary's, Waterford, NY and Terry Dingman, Corinth Central School, Corinth, NY; and two 5th graders - Caleb Smith, Delaware Community PS 18, Albany, NY and Danielle Silverman, Albany Academies, Voorheesville, NY.

We also speak with: Caleb's mother, Kamayo Smith; Camp Director, Cynthia Smith, who is also the Assistant Dean of Students at RPI and directs their Pipeline Initiatives & Partnerships program; plus Science Camp Instructor, Seamus Hodgkinson, a 30 year veteran of teaching math and science at Doane Stuart School in Albany, New York.

Glenn Busby reports. (11:56)

The preceding is made possible by the NASA Astrobiology Institute, through support of the New York Center for Astrobiology, located at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute - in partnerships with the University at Albany, the University of Arizona, and Syracuse University.

**(For more information about this story, or any of the other more than 150 stories featured in this current and past exclusive radio series, or if you would like to hear them again via your computer, the website given at the conclusion of the above segment is: )**