Print Print

iPads Helping Kids With Autism Learn To Speak


Text Size  A  A

Kids with autism may be able to learn to speak later than previously thought and researchers say that iPads could be key.

Preliminary findings from a new study indicate that iPads can help children with autism as old as 8 acquire new language.

That’s significant because many on the spectrum lack significant speech even into their school years. It has long been thought that kids are unlikely to develop speech if they do not do so by ages 5 or 6.

For the study, researchers at Vanderbilt University worked with 61 children with autism ages 5 to 8 who were minimally verbal using speech-generating apps on the iPad to communicate. In addition to touching symbols on the tablet in order to generate audible speech, the kids were encouraged to mimic the words themselves.

With the training, all of the kids in the study learned to speak new words and some started using short sentences, researchers said.

“For some parents, it was the first time they’d been able to converse with their children,” said Ann Kaiser of Vanderbilt who led the study.

Using iPads for the training is helpful for a number of reasons, Kaiser said. They are cost-effective and commonplace, meaning that there isn’t a stigma for those with autism who carry the devices.

Moreover, however, the consistent voice that speech-generating apps on the iPad deliver is a major plus.

“Every time the iPad says a word, it sounds exactly the same, which is important for children with autism, who generally need things to be as consistent as possible,” said Kaiser.

Further results from the research are expected next year. In addition, Kaiser said she is embarking on a separate five-year study along with researchers at three other universities to further assess the best method to encourage speech in kids with autism using iPad technology.

More in Autism »

Search Jobs

Post a Comment

Disability Scoop welcomes comments, though only a selection are published. In determining which comments will appear beneath a story, we look for submissions that are thoughtful and add new ideas or perspective to the issues addressed within the story. Please keep your remarks brief and refrain from inserting links.

Comments (7 Responses)

  1. Stephanie says:

    Do you have the reference for this study? I’d like to read about their methodology – for example, if the iPads were used as dedicated speech-generating devices, how much training the children and the adults around them received, how often the children used the devices, etc.

  2. Jane Brooks says:

    I wonder if Kaiser is accepting any volunteer subjects in this research

  3. 2onthespectrum says:

    Wonder if the study only tried this with children up to 8 years old? I’ll bet that this would be successful with children who are even older than 8. People with autism don’t stop learning at 8 years old. Just like anyone of us, they are life-long learners.

  4. Kimberly says:

    I have a student that uses his IPad to communicate. It is a great tool for students with other disabilities. I am hoping to utilize the IPad for a nonverbal Down Syndrome student.

  5. Natalee says:

    What specific speech apps were used? Thanks for sharing!

  6. Tom says:

    Be careful not to alloow too much time as the child gets older because they tend to stay in the 5 to 8 year old learning bracket. They will repetitively look at the same thing over and over.

  7. Theresa Drago says:

    Would like to know what apps were used, please.

Copyright © 2008-2015 Disability Scoop, LLC. All Rights Reserved. | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Reprints and Permissions