Recognized as a leader in the field of autism, The Help Group is committed to advancing research to improve the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
The Help Group recently had the privilege of supporting the next generation of autism research at its Sherman Oaks Campus. Three 15-year-olds, Jonathan Berman, Maya Flannery, and Arjun Mahajian, conducted their research at The Help Group, and this week they presented their research at the 4th annual White House Science Fair.
Hosted by President Obama, the Fair featured innovative STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) projects, designs, and experiments from students all across America. President Obama shared, “If you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House. Well, if you’re a young person and you produce the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too.”
The three researchers teamed up to study stereotypy — a behavioral issue involving repetitive or ritualistic movement that often manifests in children with autism. They found that many children with autism engage in repetitive behaviors like rocking back and forth or flapping their arms and that these stereotypical behaviors impaired the students’ ability to learn and make friends.
The young researchers set out to design a motion-detecting bracelet that could signal to a child through vibration that they were engaging in stereotypy, allowing the child to address the behavior in real time. The project called “Innovation in Autism” earned the team a place as finalist in the Google Science Fair and 1st Place at eCybermission, a free, web-based science, math, and technology competition for middle-school students that is sponsored by the U.S. Army.
Two of the students also have special connections to The Help Group. Jonathan Berman is the son of Help Group Chief Operating Officer Dr. Susan Berman, and team member Maya Flannery is the daughter of Diane Flannery, Help Group Senior Director of Design and Strategy.
The Help Group is proud to recognize the achievements of the three researchers and looks forward to the next steps in the development of this potential treatment for autism.