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Technology: The Autism Cares Foundation is pleased to announce that with help from Verizon and the Kid Company that we will soon be opening a Computer Learning Lab geared to children and young adults on the autism spectrum.

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The Learning Lab, which will be located at the Kid Company, a new indoor family entertainment complex located at 2381 Philmont Avenue, in Huntingdon Valley, PA., will feature various software programs and other devices for trial purposes.

The Learning Lab is being developed to help present information in a fun, visual way.  Children with autism have different learning styles.  Computers and mobile devices allow these children to be in the “driver’s seat” to acquire essential life skills, facilitate learning, increase communication and independent functioning.  Computers and iPods are a part of everyday life for all children (and adults) and these devices can be incorporated in home and school programs to teach lessons, as well as play games and other activities.  There is even a full featured communication system for the iPod Touch/iPhone, which assists children and adults who have difficulty speaking. 

Parents and friends can easily learn how to use technology tools to engage children and help them feel they “fit in” with peers.  Adaptations can easily be made to a standard system, such as a touch screen (instead of a mouse), big keys keyboard and ergonomic trackball. 

The Learning Lab is being envisioned to aid parents in making the decision as to which software programs may be most suitable to assist in their particular situation.  Often times, parents purchase software programs and other augmentative devices that they believe will help their child and hope that their child will actually use it.  However, this trial and error method can be extremely costly as the child may not perceive the program favorably.  Parents often give up out of frustration and or due to financial constraints. 

Our Learning Lab will feature select software programs and other augmentative devices, such as Proloquo2go, to allow parents to view and “test drive” these programs and devices before making a selection.  As parents move towards a selection, their child will also have the opportunity to “test drive” the software or device.   It is our hope that through demonstration classes, parents will be able to determine more specifically that which may work best for their particular situation. 

Please join us as we explore the amazing world of technology and open up our children’s futures.  We plan on offering free workshops which will allow everyone to come and see a variety of systems and programs that are available to help our children grow and have fun.  You can see a demonstration of a software program and evaluate it.  You can then further pursue any solution, and even customize a total system that fits a child’s needs and interests.  Whether you have already started on the technology road, or are just thinking about how to begin, please come and be a part of this innovative center. 

More details will be forthcoming as we near a grand opening expected around the holiday season.  This endeavor would not have been possible without the support from Verizon and the Kid Company.

“Verizon is proud to improve the quality of life for youth and families in the Delaware Valley by empowering the community with innovative tools and resources, ” said Daniel J. Reavy, Director of External Affairs for Verizon Pennsylvania. “We’re investing in programs, such as our partnership with Autism Cares Foundation, to reach every type of learner across the lifespan and to touch people’s lives by focusing on education, health and family safety in the 21st century. We understand that education does not begin or end in the classroom. Visit www.thinkfinity.org to learn more.”

“The Kid Company is honored to be a sponsor of the Autism Cares Foundation, providing a Learning Lab and sensory equipment at the Kid Company located at 2381 Philmont Avenue, in Huntingdon Valley, PA.  The Kid Company is an indoor family entertainment complex geared to children ages 4-16.  Kid Company is the ideal place to host a birthday party, a special or corporate event, or simply walk-in to have a great time for any reason.  We are here to provide a safe and fun venue for all children to enjoy.  Our amusements include: Highway 66 Mini Bowling, Bumper Cars, Jet About Space Carousel, Lazer Tag, 40+ Arcade Game Room, 4 story Climbing Jungle Gym, Toddler Room, and so much more.  We are nearing the completion of construction and plan to open in or about December 2009.  You can visit us on the web at www.thekidco.com.

About the Autism Cares Foundation

The Autism Cares Foundation was founded by the parents of a child with autism and other concerned parents and professionals.  The Autism Cares Foundation differentiates itself from other organizations raising funds for autism, as our support revolves around improving the quality of life experiences for children and young adults with autism today.  

Our short term efforts focus on providing various activities and events where children and young adults with autism can participate. One of the challenges with a child or young adult with autism is to attempt to provide as normal of a childhood as possible.  Presently, there are few places where children with autism can play sports together or engage in any sort of structured play or activity.  Our goal is to provide an environment that enriches the life of an individual with autism whereby he/she can engage in the type of play and other activities that other children enjoy yet provide this in a safe and secure environment.

In 2008 and continuing throughout 2009, the Autism Cares Foundation held various outings including bowling events, music events, bounce events, arts & crafts, swimming and other gatherings where children with autism could engage in play and other activities.  These activities were provided at no cost by the Autism Cares Foundation, as it is our belief that the continuing costs of caring for a child with autism can be overwhelming for many families and we didn’t want cost to be a factor when considering whether a child could participate in an event or an outing.

The Autism Cares Foundation differentiates itself from other organi¬zations raising funds for autism.  Instead of raising funds for research, we deploy our assets toward improv¬ing the quality of life ex¬periences for children and young adults with autism today.

Our long term goal is to develop an Autism Resources Center.  This would provide for a “one-stop shop”, for autism information and resources. When one is newly diagnosed with autism, a visit to the Autism Resource Center could connect them with the various agencies that can provide services, reducing the amount of time it takes to initiate critical services.  This would initially be web based, but in time a facility(s) could add a comprehensive element tying in resources, events and activities, life skills development and more.  It is also our vision to eventually expand beyond a single facility.  In future years we hope to be able to have multiple resource centers, assisting as many people as possible through the “puzzle” that is autism.

The Autism Cares Foundation’s current activities and future goals can only be accomplished with con-tinuous support and com¬mitment.  The “Foundation’s” current activities are supporting children in our local communities.  For more information visit us at www.autismcaresfoundation.org.

About Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless operates the nation’s most reliable and largest wireless voice and 3G data network, serving 89 million customers. Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with 85, 000 employees nationwide, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD).  For more information, visit www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.

See also:
Technology: Mobile Magic Application Transforms Verizon Wireless Phones Into Electronic Tour Guides to Navigate Disney Parks
Aquariums: New England Aquarium Teams Up With the Verizon Foundation to Enrich Teen Internship Experience

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