Autistic children can develop their social communication skills by using computer tablets as part of their treatment, suggests a new study by the University of California in the United States, whose results were published in the 'Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Sixty one children, between the ages of five and eight suffering from autism spectrum disorder, were given access to an iPad as part of their language and social communication treatment. A positive effect was seen on the children's communication skills during the course of the research.
Two groups, one which used iPads and the other who did not, were researched for a period of three months, in which they had two sessions of one and a half hours every week. It was seen that 78 per cent of those who used the iPad showed an improvement in the number of spoken words and the use of new words, said Connie Kasari, professor of human development at the University of California, Los Angeles' Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.
Kasari explained that they focused on helping the children initiate conversations, using the iPad to comment on what they were doing and that the iPad worked because it is a visual stimulant with auditory feedback. Kasari's team noted that the iPad is just a tool and that if it has to work to help the children, they must use it in conjunction with their treatment.
Attending physician at the Cohen Children's Medical Centre, Dr. Ruth Milanaik, said, "The idea of using an iPad is a novel approach. The idea of technology being used to help children who really need different approaches is so important."
Because of the success of the research, Kasari and her team plan to introduce the use of iPads in programs in schools.