We have seen the iPad as the central piece for many inventions – some of them plain down wacky. Nevertheless, there’s a serious side to the tablet – as it can be used successfully in many areas of medicine and health care. Due to its attractive interface and customizable properties it can attract the attention of most people. Even the ones with deficits.
Assistant research professor Kathy Thiemann-Bourque of the University of Kansas and her team have received a $1.2 million grant for their research in autism. But this is not your average research as the party is to test an iPad voice output app on young autism sufferers.
Professor Thiemann-Bourque is in charge of the operations which have been dubbed Juniper Gardens Children’s Project. The main body of the study will consist in training preschoolers, all suffering from autism to use this app. The researchers expect to see improvements in communicating with children with autism, interaction and reciprocity areas of social behavior. Communication is an issue children and adults diagnosed with autism struggle every day. Even if the need to interact and bond to other humans exists, it cannot be readily translated into action because they fail to develop what is called functional speech.
Professor Thiemann-Bourque has previously researched new peer training techniques and ways to improve the communication between children with autism and their normal classmates. The study will go on for four years, under the University of Kent’s supervision.