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iPad Apps the Key for Language Development in Autistic Kids?

iPads and Autism

Technology can help children with autism develop language skills. iPads are one way autistic children learn to communicate.


Even non-verbal autistic children can start developing communication and language skills through the use of technology, particularly tablets like the iPad and its apps. I must say, Apple is truly doing its market research well, pushing to serve populations often left untapped, such as those in educational institutions and child therapy.

Autism facts:

  • Boys are 5 times more likely to be diagnosed than girls
  • 1 in 88 children children will develop autism
  • 18.9% of autistic children also have synaesthesia
  • Video games are great, as long as they don't interfere with sleep by being in bedrooms

Earlier in the year, a study broke through the mold and presented a heartening conclusion that thrilled the parents and grandparents of autistic children everywhere. Where previously it was believed that if children do not acquire language skills by the age of 5, they never will, an "Autism Speaks" grant provided the funding necessary for University of California researchers to debunk the theory. The truth? 6 months after the start of the study, autistic children between the ages of 5 and 8 years old had significantly learned to use words and create sentences to relay their thoughts, moreso when their play-based intervention included electronic speech devices.

That is one major new finding. It also gives parents of autistic children hope that their little ones will one day be able to live lives akin to their peers and surroundings. At least they may be able to in terms of partial communication.

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Certain characteristics that might be good indicators of autism from early on according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are:

  • Not responding to one's name by 12 months
  • Not pointing at objects to show interest by 14 months
  • Not playing "pretend" games by 18 months
  • Avoiding eye contact and wanting to be alone
  • Having trouble understanding other people's feelings or talking about their own feelings
  • Having delayed speech and language skills
  • Repeating words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
  • Giving unrelated answers to questions
  • Getting upset by minor changes
  • Having obsessive interests
  • Flapping hands, rocking bodies, or spinning in circles
  • Having unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel

The use of iPads in therapy for autism is a fairly new approach but the current study builds on the use of electronic speech devices and studies that have already treaded that ground, including combining the use of iPads with riding horses. iPads are playing an increasing role in making sure children with autism that includes speech and language impediments are able to overcome those obstacles, according to Ann Kaiser, a researcher at Vanderbilt Peabody College of education and human development. 192 children will be enrolled in the latest study that is scheduled to begin Spring 2014 and have the research continue into 2017.

Parenting.com recommends a few top applications for autistic children, helping them develop communication and language skills.

  1. Book Creator
  2. MathBoard
  3. AutisMate
  4. Proloquo2go
  5. Choiceworks
  6. Pictello
  7. My PlayHome
  8. Kid In Story
  9. Word SlaPps
  10. Endless Alphabet

What apps do you like to use? I'm partial to the use of iPads and other tablets in a school setting as I personally know how much it benefits each and every child.