Researchers have recently discovered that the use of tablets such as iPads, as well as specific apps, can be used to assist in the development of various skills for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Although there is no cure for the disorder, several methods have shown great promise in improving behavior and developing skills, including the use of technology. Experts have found that simple, carefully constructed apps have enabled children to communicate efficiently, because the software is predictable and more comfortable than human interaction. App designers across the globe have become dedicated to formulating programs specifically to aid in the development of skills in children.
For example, Toca Boca in Sweden is dedicated to making digital apps for children, to encourage their creativity and develop multiple skills. Toca Band, one of their apps, encourages children to learn about rhythm, and create music with their own unique style. These apps have proved very popular among children with ASD. Toby Price, who has a non-verbal Autistic daughter that uses the apps, states, “She now uses her iPad to show us things she wants, or places she would like to go. She uses it to practice handwriting, and even counting.” He adds, “As a parent, [I am] happy to have found a way to engage our kids with iPads”.
In a recent study, researchers from Canada studied non-verbal Autistic children in their classrooms, who were each given iPads for a six-month trial. There was a statistical improvement in overall communication skills for 75% of the students studied. The tablets were also found to increase motivation, attention, and the level of social interaction among the children. Teacher Sarah Quickenden states, “The normal curriculum that we were offering just wasn’t allowing them to demonstrate these skills to us. We never realized that the children had these skills, because some of them were so locked in.”
Another example of success occurred at Shema Kolainu – Hear Our Voices, school and center for children with Autism in New York. Daniel, a 3-year-old preschool student, was considered non-verbal, as he refused to communicate with words or even gestures. Despite his frustration, his teachers were hopeful that one day Daniel would find a way to express himself. Eventually, Daniel began repeating the names of things he liked, including “iPad”. His communication abilities expanded further as he began forming bits of sentences, such as “want iPad”. His ability to convey his longing to use this item was quite astounding, as he once was unable to express his wants or needs.
The ICare4Autism International Conference will be taking place in NYC from June 30th to July 2nd. One of the days will highlight the developments in technology that are being used in Autism treatments and educational strategies. This includes a workshop presented by Michele McKeone, founder and CEO of Autism Expressed, who will be showcasing how her program allows children and teens to utilize technology to build lifelong skills. To attend this conference, please select tickets here.
Additionally, today marks World Autism Awareness Day. Globally, people and organizations are promoting awareness through various events and activities. At ICare4Autism, we will be highlighting the need for more awareness throughout the entire month. We will be utilizing this special opportunity by sharing inspirational stories, important scientific news and research findings, as well as some entertaining and informative material that we hope will enlighten some of you, and encourage you to share the information with others. The entire month of April is a call to action to support the Autism community.