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New technology to help children with Autism

A letter to the parents of an autistic child

Dear Tony and Mary,

We do not know if Mary and Tony are your real names, but we do know that you are the parents of an autistic child, like Mary and Tony whom we met during the initial phases of our project. You and your child, together with other parents and their autistic children, are at the centre of our research work.

We are a Team of researchers, medical professionals and experts in various disciplines engaged in the research project MICHELANGELO, partially financed by the European Commission (7th EU Research Framework Programme) and devoted to the development of new therapeutic solutions and assessment tools for autism.

As you are aware, deployment of research into clinical practices is a medium-, long-term process that takes a number of years to realise. This is not caused by delays but by the justified need of having a solid proof of the effectiveness of the proposed solutions.

We are currently in the last phase of the project and are validating the results of the research work through an “exploratory study” in Pisa and in Paris that involves no more than twenty children. Although the preliminary results of the experimental phase are very encouraging, the sample is too small to give a solid demonstration of the benefits of the MICHELANGELO therapeutic approach and of its solutions; we only have a proof of the concept.

We would like you to know that you are not alone and that the European Commission, the research and academic society, the industrial world and obviously the medical community, are all committed to address autism and are investing resources and time on it. In research, especially in the medical field, innovative solutions are realised through the contribution of various efforts, initiatives and the dedication of all the involved actors.

Through the MICHELANGELO project, we would like to offer our small contribution by knowing that, with your help, we can open up new horizons on knowledge, early diagnosis and intervention of autism and offer children and their families new and effective approaches to rehabilitation and a better quality of life.

The aim of our project is twofold:

  • to enhance the diagnosis and assessment of children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) by developing advanced tools that allow an early identification and assessment of the disorder during its evolution;
  • to allow a more “natural” and intensive intervention by changing as much as possible the setting of the treatment from a clinical one to the more comfortable environment of the child’s home

In this new approach you,will have the important and active role of “mediators” between your child and the therapist (or as we call it “co-therapists”).

In the MICHELANGELO project we will be using innovative solutions enabled by advances in Information and Communication Technologies. These will include sensors that are “worn” and monitor the health and psychological and emotional behaviour of your child, robot-based solutions, interactive games played by you and your child by using two synchronised tablet PCs, and new and enhanced approaches for the analysis of medical imaging and bio-signals.

You can find more information on this project on our website www.michelangelo-project.eu, including answers to a selected list of Frequently Asked Questions. There are also links to organisations and family associations in various countries whereby you can get in touch with other families, ask questions, get answers and build a support network. If you would like to contact us, you can send us a message on the contact form in this website.

Yours sincerely,



Silvio Bonfiglio from FIMI S.r.l. - Saronno, Italy
Giovanni Pioggia from CNR, Italian National Research Council
Koushik Maharatna from the University of Southampton, United Kingdom
Filippo Muratori from the Fondazione Stella Maris – Pisa, Italy
Cristiano Paggetti from I+ S.r.l. – Firence, Italy
Angele Giuliano from AcrossLimits Ltd, Malta
Mark Donnelly from the University of Ulster, United Kingdom
David Cohen and Mohamed Chetouani from the University Pierre et Marie Curie of Paris, France
ean Xavier from the Assistance Publique Hopiteaux de Paris, France

together with all their colleagues.

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The Michelangelo Project is co-funded from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° #288241