Goodwin Thrills With Innovative Autism Research at KiDA

April 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Goodwin Thrills With Innovative Autism Research at KiDA

KiDA Innovation Series: Matthew Goodwin Lecture from KiDA.

Experimental psychologist and autism researcher Matthew Goodwin PhD. kicked off KiDA’s “Innovation Series” with an exclusive multimedia lecture that wowed the packed house of parents and autism professionals at KiDA’s headquarters in Irvine, Calif. Goodwin, who recently joined Northeastern University as an assistant professor, discussed innovative technologies now in the works to boost research and learning in individuals with autism.

Goodwin said that since it can be difficult to relate the internal emotional arousal state of children on the spectrum with what they’re presenting on the outside, he became interested in measuring this in a non-stressful way for individuals that may have trouble participating in laboratory settings. The solution: Create technology that can unobtrusively record the body’s reactions, away from the lab. Developing and using these technologies has become the focus of his career.

These technologies, which he began working on while at the MIT Media Lab, include:

  • Wearable wristbands that wirelessly collect real-time data on stress, nervous-system arousal and anxiety;
  • Wireless sensors that track physical activity and detect hand clapping and body rocking;
  • Webcams that detect facial expressions in one’s self and others;
  • Cameras and microphones embedded in the homes of children with autism to compare the characteristics of ASD to typical development.


*Check out Goodwin’s bio on the Northeastern University Web site (


*Watch the video for Goodwin’s presentation at KiDA, “Innovations to Enhance Learning in Autism”.

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Daily Pilot: Center offers comprehensive care for autistic children

February 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Center offers comprehensive care for autistic children

Kids Institute for Development & Advancement in Irvine has open house, grand-opening event planned for Feb. 23.
February 04, 2012|By Sarah Peters

Parents feel like “part of the team” when it comes to the care and education of their autistic children at a new all-encompassing treatment center in Irvine, a parent said.Teachers and students utilize cutting-edge technology and programs to help develop communication and academic skills.

“Not just him, but our whole family has changed,” Irvine resident Sopheap Keo said of her 7-year-old autistic son, Evan. “When I drop him off here, he’s happy. He sees the doors and goes running — he doesn’t even wait for me. Before, at the public school, they had to pull him away from me.”

Evan, who is severely autistic, now shows great enthusiasm in his effort to communicate using words because of the attention he has received, Keo said.

Keo credits the Kids Institute for Development & Advancement (KiDA), a multidisciplinary and comprehensive care center for youth ages 2 to 18, which opened in a 50,000-square-foot facility Jan. 2 at 17861 Von Karman Ave.

The facility brings together speech, occupational, behavioral, music and social therapies, medical and research services, full-time kindergarten- through eighth-grade classes, and a wellness center.

The center includes a movie theater and hair salon specific to the needs of autistic children.

An open house and grand-opening event are planned for 4 to 6 p.m. Feb. 23.

“What the typical day looks like for a lot of families with an autistic child is visiting a series of facilities for school, therapy, treatment and more,” Kristin Coates, KiDA spokeswoman, said last week.

Families can spend about 40 hours a week at nearly a dozen different appointments with doctors, dietitians and therapists, she said.

“It leads to a lot of stress for the parents and the child,” Coates said. “Especially for a child with autism, that’s a lot of sensory input to process.”

Those miles and hours logged by a family taking an autistic child from one appointment to another can impede treatment, she said.

“They have all these different types of needs, and the public doesn’t know just how draining it is on the family,” Coates said. “That’s why we’re here.”

The sensory overload of a public school and its effect on Costa Mesa resident Kristi Munro’s son led her to KiDA.

“For him, the traditional model caused damage,” Munro said of her 7-year-old autistic son, Billy. “The daily drills and inability to let a child catch up to the teacher’s directions would cause him to just shut down. Now, I see him reaching out, responding to the teacher, being mischievous, all the things a 7-year-old boy should be doing.”

Billy was enrolled at KiDA about two years ago. He now sleeps well, interacts with others and is learning to use words on an iPad, Munro said.

“My baby is the most import thing to me,” Munro said. “They were really able to meet us at where he was, and I could see the desire in their hearts to provide an environment that was healthy, but also where he can be a kid. Autism doesn’t mean that the child is not a child.”

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World-Class Center for Autism Opens in Irvine – KiDA

January 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Orange County’s Premiere Center for Autism, KiDA, Launches 50,000 Square Foot Comprehensive Facility to Serve as “One-Stop-Shop” for Autism Services

Irvine, CA–January 20–Kids Institute for Development & Advancement (KiDA), Orange County’s largest center for the education and treatment of children with autism, is launching a 50,000 square foot facility in Irvine, California. KiDA offers a multidisciplinary, comprehensive approach to autism treatment, providing education, therapy, medicine, and family support for children with autism. Community members are invited to view the facility at KiDA’s Grand Opening on Thursday, February 23, 2012.

KiDA was created in 2008 by a family that envisioned a better alternative in which all of their child’s needs could be met under one roof. Out of this vision came KiDA, which started as a therapy center and expanded to include a full-time private school in 2010. KiDA Academy, a comprehensive school for autism, offers students low classroom ratios, daily individual therapies, and the latest assistive technology in the classroom. In 2011, KiDA began offering expanded educational and therapy services, to include speech, occupational, behavioral, music, and social therapies. KIDA even opened a hair salon specifically for kids with autism!

The new facility, which boasts a movie theater, commercial fitness gym, arcade room, hair salon, and enclosed atrium, currently houses five different types of therapies, medical offices, and KiDA Academy’s first two classes of students. “At KIDA, kids are the center of attention, kids rule!” says Fariborz Maseeh KIDA’s founder. Looking forward, the space will accommodate the academy’s growth to K through 8th grade classes, as well as additional medical services and a Wellness Center, to include yoga, massage, and dietary support. In the upcoming months, KiDA plans to develop its medical and research services, including collaborations with hospitals and universities to explore causes and treatments for autism, as well as rendering medical services to some of the 20,000+ children with autism in Orange County. KIDA’s model is to serve the needs of the child in a child-centric way.

KiDA’s new facility is opening its doors to the community on Thursday, February 23 from 4:00 to 6:00pm for an Open House. Family members, teachers, service providers, medical professionals, and interested community members are invited to explore the facility, learn more about KiDA’s vision and services, and mingle with other individuals that are passionate about advancing children with autism.

For more information about KiDA or to RSVP for KiDA’s Grand Opening, contact David Tep or Kristin Coates at (949) 222-2214 or visit KiDA’s website,  KiDA is located at 17861 Von Karman Avenue, Irvine, CA 92614.

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Gifts to help them Giggle & Grow

December 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Looking for the perfect holiday gift for your child or grandchild?  This list, compiled by KiDA’s Speech Language Pathologist Rachael Gray, includes games and toys that will not only entertain, but also help your child grow!

Turn-taking  games:

·         Pop up Pirate

·         Don’t Break the Ice

·         Bowling Game

·         Ring Toss

·         Let’s Go Fishing Game

·         Hungry Hungry Hippo

Listening/Auditory Processing Games:

·         Cranium Hullabaloo

·         Sound Bingo 

Basic Concept Development Games:

·         Lucky Ducks (shapes & colors)

·         Spot It (matching)

·         The Ladybug Game (counting)

Vocabulary Development Games:

·         Headbanz

·         Granny’s Candies (Super Duper Publications) 

Narratives & Written Expression Games:

·         Story Cubes

Social Skills Games:

·         Guess Who?

·         Would you rather?

Critical Thinking:

·         Clue

There are many wonderful games out there that double as tools for helping your child develop.  This list includes just a few of our favorites.  We want to hear about what games your children enjoy.  What is on your child’s wish list this year?

Disclaimer: KiDA does not endorse any of the above mentioned games/toys, nor is it affiliated with any of the game/toy manufacturers.
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Summit Delivers Hope, Insight, Technology to Parents and Professionals

September 26, 2011 4 comments

KiDA’s 3rd Annual Summit on Autism was an informative event for over 700  parents and professionals.

  • “I loved the event,” said Mike Easterson, who has an eight-year-old son with autism. “I thought it was great. Some of it was therapeutic, hearing what other people have to say, their common experience. You don’t feel like you’re all alone.”

    KiDA's Summit on Autism speakers include Dr. Wendy Goldberg, Dr. Matthew Goodwin, Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, Dr. Howard Shane, Alison Singer, and Dr. Connie Kasari

  • “I like what the speakers had to say,” said Kelly Owens, a speech and language pathology assistant not associated with KiDA. “I have taken away more compassion for people with autism, or any kind of mental illness, and just what parents go through that have an autistic child. I think this knowledge is definitely something I could bring back to the classroom.”
  • “I enjoyed the straightforward manner of some of the speakers, especially Alison Singer, and the Summit was easier to relate to than other autism conferences I’ve been to,” said Betty Egan, mother of a child on the spectrum.
  • “The Summit was very interesting,” said Andi Yudin, a preschool teacher in a school with a full-inclusion program. “I got some insight today that you have to accept and appreciate the child for the way they are. We may not know why they’re doing the hand clapping. And we can’t be upset if they’re not making the leaps and bounds that we might expect.”
  • “The information was very hopeful,” said Amy Tam, who has a daughter with autism. “I loved Dr. Shane’s presentation because I love the iPad. My husband and I loved the technology panel, in general. I’m going to bring home some of the things I learned to try to work with my daughter.”
  • “I thought the speakers and presentation were very helpful,” said Michelle Steiner, the mother of two-year-old daughter recently diagnosed with autism. “I also appreciated all of the research, and this summit had a very personal feel to it. The Summit was great, very exciting.”
  • “I wanted to learn what I could possibly do to help families whose lives are impacted by autism and to understand them better,” said Holly Wylie, who works in a church with families who have children on the spectrum. “It’s very important for families to hear that there is hope out there.”

About the Summit

“My most important message to you as caregivers, from my experience of 40 years … is in the face of all the stresses and challenges, you must take care of yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself, the quality of care you give is diminished,” said former First Lady Rosalynn Carter to an audience of more than 700 parents, service providers and professionals during her keynote speech at KiDA’s Third Annual Summit on Autism at the UC Irvine Bren Events Center.

The Summit, which was presented by the Kids Institute for Development & Advancement (KiDA) in collaboration with UC Irvine, For OC Kids, CHOC Children’s, featured a prominent group of experts that explored, through research and personal experience, the new, cutting-edge technologies that can assist children with autism and the impact autism has on the family.

Technology Today

“The idea is to think about just how powerful this new technology is,” said presenter Dr. Howard Shane, the director of the Autism Language Program at Children’s Hospital Boston. “It is going to change the way we think about things. It’s really a paradigm-shifter.”

Shane’s presentation focused on technology he has developed as well as the iPad and various apps that help improve the communication and learning skills of children with autism. He presented some of the iPad apps that can engage and teach children with autism, including: Singing Fingers, Arnie the Trick Goldfish, Talking Karl and Symbol Talk, a voice-driven speech tool he is currently developing. Shane also showed the audience how effective the use of Skype, video modeling and online photos can be for children to learn to perform basic tasks with visual and dynamic cues.

Dr. Matthew Goodwin, director of Clinical Research at the MIT Media Lab, continued the focus on the latest technology advancements by discussing advancements such as unobtrusive, wearable devices such as the Q sensor wristbands that collect real-time data on autonomic nervous system activity – like stress and anxiety levels – and wireless sensors that automatically detect the motor movements of hand clapping, body rocking and other common behaviors.

But what really wowed the audience was his and his colleagues’ exploration into technology that allows for the early diagnosis and detection of autism in children by recording visual and audio data over months or years in the places they naturally inhabit, such as the home. This technology has since moved from the lab setting and led to the development of a home-based version. “There’s hope for the future” said Goodwin. “Some of this is crystal ball-gazing, but I’m involved in the largest scaled effort from computer scientists and behavioral scientists … to come up with assistive technologies that will let non-experts perform more like experts.”

Impact on the Family

The Summit’s audience of families and professionals were also treated to presentations on autism’s impact on the family featuring nationally recognized autism experts including Dr. Wendy Goldberg, professor of Psychology & Social Behavior and Education at UCI, Dr. Connie Kasari, professor of Psychological Studies in Education and Psychiatry at UCLA, and Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation and the mother of a daughter with autism.  Their talks delved into why it’s important for parents to talk about and share their experiences and stress because autism affects the entire family.  Dr. Kasari addressed how the content of interventions – and number of hours spent – matters and how parents’ child-related stress can be limited with effective hands-on and education treatments and better communication.

For more information about KiDA’s summit on autism, visit

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Meet our Speakers! Panel 1 Introductions

September 12, 2011 Leave a comment

We would like to introduce you to some of the presenters at the 3rd Annual Summit on Autism, which will take place on Sept. 17.  Three of our Panel 1 speakers are featured below:

Wendy Goldberg, PhD

Wendy Goldberg is a renowned autism researcher at the UC Irvine School of Social Ecology. The developmental psychologist and professor of Psychology & Social Behavior and Education has studied the early development of children who are later diagnosed with autism. Goldberg’s work in autistic regression was one of three projects funded with a $4.3 million grant by the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development in 1998. She has also co-authored a book on parenting and has been published in dozens of journals and books.

And recently, she was one of the researchers on a study published by the American Psychological Association that found that children of women who return to work before their offspring turn three years old are no more likely to act out or suffer decreases in later achievement at school than kids whose mothers are full-time homemakers.

“If you look at the big picture, the effects of maternal employment per se are small,” Goldberg said about the research. “Behavior and academic achievement are not determined solely by a mom’s work status but are related to many things: genetics, neighborhoods, quality of schools.”

Goldberg’s presentation at the Summit on Autism is titled “Autism: A Family Affair”.

Connie Kasari, PhD

Connie Kasari, professor of Psychological Studies in Education and Psychiatry at UCLA, is a founding member of the Center for Autism Research and Treatment at UCLA and has been actively involved in autism research for the past 25 years. Kasari’s presentation is titled “Engaging Autism: Effects of Family Involvement”.

Kasari’s research focuses on social-emotional and cognitive development in atypical children, and she is interested in treatment studies of social and communication behavior in children with autism. Some of her research has involved promoting communication in toddlers with autism and characterizing cognition in nonverbal individuals with autism.

In a recent study, Kasari looked into the concept of peer modeling – grouping children with ASD with “typical” children in the hope that they will learn to imitate their peers’ behaviors and social skills – for high-functioning children with autism in classrooms in public elementary schools. In her work, she found out something simple: “Peer modeling works,” she said in a video interview. “It shows you can make a difference in a very short period of time.”

Alison Singer, MBA

Alison Singer is the founder and president of the Autism Science Foundation, a nonprofit organization that funds autism research and serves to increase awareness of autism spectrum disorders and the needs of individuals and families affected by autism. As the mother of a child with autism and the legal guardian of her adult brother with autism, she is a natural advocate. Singer’s presentation is titled “We’re All in This Together”.

In 2007, she was appointed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to serve on the federal Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, which is charged with developing the strategic plan to guide federal spending for autism research.

In her many television appearances discussing autism research and other autism-related issues, she has offered insight on the non-causal link between vaccines and autism on CNN, where she asked, “How can we invest in studies that will help us understand what does cause autism? The questions won’t go away until we can answer that question.” And on The Dr. Oz Show, she joined a panel of parents and experts discussing the challenges of raising children with autism.

Learn more about KiDA’s Third Annual Summit on Autism  by visiting  There is limited space remaining – register today!

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Renowned Researchers to Focus on Technology’s Impact on Autism at KiDA’s Third Annual Summit on Autism

September 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Kids Institute for Development and Advancement’s Conference to Feature a Panel With Dr. Howard Shane and Dr. Matthew Goodwin on Technological Advancements to Help People With Autism Learn and Thrive

Irvine, CA – Sept. 7 – Kids Institute for Development and Advancement (KiDA), as part of its Third Annual Summit on Autism, will feature cutting-edge research from two prominent experts who have spent decades developing technology to impact the lives of children with autism and their families. Dr, Howard Shane, the Director of the Center for Communication Enhancement and Autism Language Program at Children’s Hospital Boston, and Dr. Matthew Goodwin, Director of Clinical Research at the MIT Media Lab, will share their insights on the latest innovations to help children on the autism spectrum during the Summit’s panel “Technology and its impact on autism”.

The Summit on Autism will take place on Saturday, September 17, 2011, at the University of California, Irvine’s Bren Events Center, beginning at 8:00 am. UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake, M.D. will open the Summit and Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter will deliver the keynote address.

As a presenter, Shane, a professor at Harvard Medical School and a speech-language pathology specialist, will highlight his work developing technology to help improve the communication and learning skills of children with autism. His presentation, titled “Aligning the Features of Assistive Technology With the Characteristics of Autism,” will discuss mobile technology – namely, the iPad and other tablets – and will provide parents and professionals with a better understanding of what these technologies can do, as well as practical suggestions and the benefits from using them. Shane has called the iPad “a very important leap” in technology for children on the spectrum because it gives them visual tools to increase their understanding of language and aids them in gaining cognitive skills, sociability and degrees of independence.

“The summit is important because the more information, the better for families,” says Shane. “It’s important to come to understand some of the benefits of technology. Technology is giving children with autism opportunities that weren’t available to them before.”

Goodwin, a Ph.D in experimental psychology who is also Co-Director of the Autism Technology Initiative at MIT, will delve into his research creating innovative, wearable technologies that collect real-time data and help autistic children with the difficulties they have in recognizing and communicating their emotional states. Such advancements include wristbands that record data on stress and anxiety levels and wireless sensors that automatically detect hand clapping and body rocking. Goodwin’s presentation is titled “Developing Innovative Technology to Enhance Research and Practice in Autism”.

“It’s important for families, scientists and other professionals to be aware of what technology we can expect to see in a mature state in five to 10 years,” says Goodwin. “That way, they can be participants in the technology and ultimately use it to tell us how it’s working, so we can make it better.”

Following the summit, attendees will be able to view and participate in an interactive showcase of the latest technologies related to autism, presented by Shane and Goodwin.

With the panel featuring Shane and Goodwin, excitement is definitely building around the event, especially among members of the parent community. “Technology is the one thing that drew our family to the summit,” says a mother whose six-year-old daughter attends school at KiDA. Said another parent: “The Summit will have things we can take home and implement to make my child’s life and our lives better, as a family.”

Professionals also have reason to be excited. They can acquire new knowledge from research that can help support and empower families to be able to provide long-term benefits to children with autism, says Dr. Joseph Donnelly, a pediatric neurologist at UC Irvine and Director of autism organization For OC Kids: “The speakers will present new information that can give professionals an evidence base for many of the things they recommend for parents.” And, there is an extra incentive for some professionals: CSHA continuing education credits are being offered for speech language pathologists and occupational therapists.

The Summit will also include the panel “Autism and its impact on family,” featuring nationally recognized autism experts: Dr. Wendy Goldberg, Professor of Psychology & Social Behavior and Education at UC Irvine; Dr. Connie Kasari, Professor of Psychological Studies in Education and Psychiatry at UCLA; and Alison Singer, President of the Autism Science Foundation. Other participating experts include faculty from UC Irvine and CHOC Children’s Hospital.

About Autism and KiDA®

Autism is a social epidemic that currently affects one in every 91 children.

Kids Institute for Development & Advancement (KiDA) is an integrated center of excellence for the diagnosis and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder located in Irvine, California.  KiDA’s state-of-the-art facility provides education, therapy, and medical services by expert staff.  In addition to social groups and individual therapy, KiDA offers a full-time school featuring individualized, comprehensive education for kids with autism.  For more information or to schedule a tour (16832 Red Hill Avenue, Irvine, CA 92606), call 949.222.2214 or visit

In addition to KiDA, Summit co-sponsors include:

University of California, Irvine:

Founded in 1965, UC Irvine is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service.  Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UC Irvine is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with nearly 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,000 staff.  Orange County’s largest employer, UC Irvine contributes an annual economic impact of $4.2 billion.

CHOC Children’s:

Named one of the best children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report (2011-2012), CHOC Children’s is exclusively committed to the health and well being of children through clinical expertise, advocacy, outreach and research that brings advanced treatment to pediatric patients.  Affiliated with the University of California, Irvine, CHOC’s regional healthcare network includes two state-of-the-art hospitals in Orange and Mission Viejo, several primary and specialty care clinics, a pediatric residency program, and four centers of excellence – The CHOC Children’s Heart, Neuroscience, Orthopedic and Hyundai Cancer Institutes.

For OC Kids:

For over 10 years, For OC Kids Neurodevelopmental Center has provided comprehensive care for children with autism and a wide range of developmental, behavioral, and learning disorders.  This UC Irvine/CHOC Children’s collaborative program offers assistance at early stages, including evaluations and diagnoses, and continued care throughout adolescence, including treatment, education, and support for both children and families.

The Autism Science Foundation:

The Autism Science Foundation provides funding and other assistance to scientists and organizations conducting, facilitating, publicizing, and disseminating autism research.  This nonprofit organization also equips the public with information about autism and the needs of individuals and families affected by autism.


Kristin Coates


Shami Abraham


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