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iPads help communication in Autism

Lana Bandoim's picture
iPads and autism

Technology is providing many powerful tools that are helping people with autism improve their communication skills. A new research study focuses on iPads and autistic children to determine if they are benefiting from the gadgets. Families are determined to find new ways to help their kids express themselves better.


The research appears in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and has encouraging information for families with autistic children. A group of 61 children with poor language skills and very limited vocabularies was included. The group was divided into two sections, so approximately 50 percent had access to iPads.

Everyone in the study received the same speech therapy, but one section did not have tablets. Researchers found that the autistic children who used iPads improved their communication skills at a higher rate and built a bigger vocabulary. Although both groups benefited from speech therapy, there were clear differences in the iPad section.

The new study should help people who are trying to improve access to technology for children with autism. iPads are obviously a powerful device, but many families cannot afford them. There are groups that are trying to provide free or reduced-cost tablets to these families, so more kids will benefit from the devices. Autism Speaks has been able to donate hundreds of iPads to autistic people, and Danny’s Wish is also giving them away. In addition, the iTaalk Autism Foundation is educating the public about the importance of these tablets while donating to families in need.

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Studies have shown that children with autism can benefit from iPads, but autistic adults have also been able to develop their language skills with the technology. There are apps and tools designed to specifically address the needs of a person with autism. Families are already seeing the results and noticing significant changes in their loved ones.

Image: PierreF.21000/Wikimedia Commons


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As a speech-language pathologist, I'm curious as to what iPad apps the children in the study were given access to. Also curious as to what kind of adult support (in relation to use of apps) the students were given. These factors would be crucial to the outcome.