Kids are always stealing their parents’ iPads to play Angry Birds and watch videos. But as it turns out, there’s more benefit to this practice than just a boost in hand-eye coordination–especially when it comes to autistic children.
According to new research by Vanderbilt Peabody College’s Ann Kaiser and funded by Autism Speaks, children with autism can actually develop their speech skills later than previously believed, and iPads are proving to be a valuable tool in this regard. The study shows that children between the ages of 5 and 8 who use iPads as part of their speech treatment are developing far more spoken words, and even short sentences, with the help of iPads when compared to other types of interventions.
Augmentative and alternative communication devices have been used for many years in the treatment of speech disorders, but thanks to a device like the iPad, there are now apps that do the same, offering a more affordable and accessible option for parents and therapists of children with Autism.
Researches used to think that, if children with autism had not begun to speak by age 5 or 6, they would be impeded for life. But Kaiser’s study results show that the iPad might very well change that idea. But just how effective is the iPad? In an effort to learn this better, Kaiser has begun a new five-year-long research project backed by The National Institutes of Health’s Autism Centers of Excellence with colleagues at UCLA, University of Rochester, and Cornell Weill Medical School. It uses two contrasting interventions (direct-teaching and naturalistic-teaching) to evaluate the effectiveness of the iPad in assisting children with Autism with speech development. Results from the Autism Speaks study will be available in Spring 2014, while the NIH study will continue through Spring of 2017.
More information can be found here: http://news.vanderbilt.edu/2013/11/ipads-autism-language/