New Technology Helps Children With Autism Develop Communication Skills

New Technology Helps Children With Autism Develop Communication SkillsBy Marcia Villavicencio

Parents of children with autism are always looking for new ways to learn how to interact with their children while providing them with new educational tools. According to a new study by David Mendell, director of the Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research at the Perelman School of Medicine in Pennsylvania, the cost of supporting a child with autism can be 2 million dollars or more. This varies depending on the cost of care, education, residence, and medical expenses. The child’s development and education are the main focuses, and parents of kids with autism are taking advantage of the new advances in technology to help their kids develop their communication skills.

The school for a child with autism can be costly. The Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative states that parents can spend approximately $17,000 more than average on a child with these special needs. The costs include services for speech therapy, summer camps and other activities which can help their development. As technology advances, parents of children with autism can take advantage of new computer software which will help in their kids’ development. A new app soon to be on the market will provide a read-out of people’s emotions according to their facial expressions. It will challenge kids to learn these emotional cues and eventually match them to understand how people are feeling. Another application, intended for use by everyone, but designed to help with autistic kids’ development, will use facial expressions to make music–when people smile or frown, the music will change from sad to happy.

Other technologies that have become popular among educators and parents of children with autism are already compatible with mobile devices. A study in Toronto, by researchers at the Institute of Communication Culture and Information Technology, used iPads to record the development of special needs kids’ who were mostly nonverbal communicators. The result of the six-month study demonstrated that these kids developed their communication skills through the new technology by identifying different illustrations presented on the screen of the device. According to the observations, 75 percent of the children also improved their attentiveness and interaction with peers and educators.  Continue reading

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