The iPad has become so ubiquitous nowadays that it is found practically everywhere. People use their iPads to access the Internet, catch up on their favorite TV serial or play games with friends. While this smart device can be a lifeline when you are not sitting behind a desk and computer, it also has another use that far exceeds the role an iPad plays in your life.
A new search conducted by Ann Kaiser, who is a researcher associated with the VanderbiltPeabodyCollege in the U.S. and a professor of education and human development has found iPads can facilitate speech development in children diagnosed with autism.
According to Ms Kaiser, the research found using devices that generate speech can support development of speaking skills among children aged between 5 and 8 years. During the course of the study, the researchers found that children actually learned to speak new words and even speak short sentences during the study.
This research is monumental for parents with autistic children, as there are many parents who have been unable to converse with their children because of the limitations posed by the disorder. Researchers believe that with iPads becoming so common and this would make it possible for more autistic children and their families to have greater extent of communication.
For years, speech therapists and families have used alternative and augmentative communication devices which make use of gesture, images, symbols and speech output to communicate with people who suffer from speaking difficulties. However, now there are apps available that copy these very same devices and can easily be installed into iPads. One of the reasons why iPads are preferred in modern times to help encourage speech development among late speaking children with autism is the affordability, user-friendliness and accessibility. Furthermore, iPads can take away the stigma that autistic children may experience when they use them to communicate with their friends, teachers or classmates.
There is a simple reason why iPads are effective in encouraging speech and language development among autistic children. When a person utters a word, it can sound different every time the person speaks. This is because words tend to blend together and as a result they have different sounds in different contexts. On the other hand, when an iPad is used to generate a word, it sounds the same every time regardless of the context. This feature is extremely important for autistic children, who want everything organized and consistent. Hence, iPads tend to be more effective than any other devices used to teach language skills to children with autism.
Moreover, iPad also helps to debunk an earlier belief that researchers had; usually, very few autistic children master words by the time they are ready for school and researchers believed that if these children did not speak by the time they were 5 or 6, they would be highly unlikely to learn the language and speak. The researchers of this new study believe that using iPads to encourage spoken language among children with autism can bring about a change in the previous belief.
While there is still more research being done on using iPads to help promote development of language skills among autistic children, this new finding has created quite a stir and many parents have welcomed it. In the past, iPads were put down because researchers felt that children did not develop literacy when exposed to these smart devices. Of course, there are opponents of this claim too. But with this new research, if autistic children can acquire language skills to be able to communicate using an iPad, it will truly change the lives of many such children and their parents or caregivers.