iPads and speech development for children with autism

Autism can have many effects on a child. For example, it can sometimes lead to a child having difficulties when it comes to developing the ability to speak.

Conventional wisdom has been that, once a child passes the age of five or six, if they haven't yet developed the ability to speak, their chances of ever doing so are low. However, a new study indicates that a technological device that is very common in our society may be able to help children with autism who are past this age limit develop speaking abilities. The technological device in question is the iPad.

The study is being done by researchers from Vanderbilt University and it is looking at the impacts speech-generating applications on iPads have on children with autism with minimal speaking abilities.

Recently, some preliminary findings were released by the researchers. According to these findings, the speech-generating applications on the iPads helped the study's subjects, whose ages range from five to eight, learn to say new words and, in some cases, learn to speak short sentences.

There are many reasons it could be encouraging if iPads can in fact help children with autism when it comes to the development of speaking abilities.

First of all, given how important the ability to speak can be, anything that can help a child with autism to develop this ability could have significant impacts on the child's life. Having improved speaking abilities can make it easier for children with autism to interact with the world around them and can make things like employment much more of a possibility for them when they are an adult.

Another reason the study's results are encouraging is the iPad's low cost as compared to many types of speech therapy. Cost can be a major concern for families with children with disabilities, particularly if they are low-income families (this is one of the reasons why SSI benefits can be so important for low-income families with children with disabilities). Thus, it can be incredibly beneficial if tools for helping children with autism are low-cost in addition to being effective.

It will be interesting to see what further findings are released regarding the study in the future. Also, it will be worth keeping an eye on a second study that will soon be starting that will be looking at how to most effectively use iPad technology to help kids with autism.

Source: Disability Scoop, "iPads Helping Kids With Autism Learn To Speak," Michelle Diament, Nov. 19, 2013

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