iPads, Autism, and Autism Speaks

iPads Helping Kids With Autism Learn To Speak – Disability Scoop:


Preliminary findings from a new study indicate that iPads can help children with autism as old as 8 acquire new language.

That’s significant because many on the spectrum lack significant speech even into their school years. It has long been thought that kids are unlikely to develop speech if they do not do so by ages 5 or 6.

For the study, researchers at Vanderbilt University worked with 61 children with autism ages 5 to 8 who were minimally verbal using speech-generating apps on the iPad to communicate. In addition to touching symbols on the tablet in order to generate audible speech, the kids were encouraged to mimic the words themselves.

I pulling this out because I know that a lot of my readers are very interested in AAC and this is a closely allied subject…

So a couple of things here – I understand from other sources that the paper itself won’t be available until 2014 (which is reason enough to complain about publishing cycles in academia, if it’s in the news it would be nice if we could all look at the methodology…)

I’d prefer it if the article had said ‘tablet’ rather than ‘iPad’. I’m an Apple user myself but I don’t think it was the ghost of Steve Jobs that helped the kids, I suspect it had much more to do with the paradigm than the manufacturer…

Also it might be worth considering that the research is funded by Autism Speaks, which I know has had a lot of negative things said about it recently. You might thing this sort of research shows the good that Autism Speaks does, or you might think it an example of an overemphasis on children over adults with autism, but it’s nice to get a data-point that isn’t funding related.

That negativity aside. I’m quite pleased a) that this research is being done b) that it’s been done properly and that the result is useful. I believe that in this case it is confirming a model that the SLTs I’ve spoken to already work with.





10 thoughts on “iPads, Autism, and Autism Speaks

  1. Sir: I worked in 2007-8 in a residential school/home for children with autism. One of my students was particularly bright, the brightest in the school where it was mistakenly supposed everyone was kindergarten level or below in understanding. I had been told he did not begin speaking until the age of 12. He was really articulate, a neat kid, but a little naive when it came to understanding the typical world.

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