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Wed, 6 Oct 2010

Victoria University researchers are investigating whether iPads – or other electronic devices capable of converting words or pictures to speech – can be used to help autistic children communicate.

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects the brain, with one in every 150 children afflicted. Most of them have difficulty communicating and about half fail to develop speech at all.

Professor Jeff Sigafoos, of Victoria University, and Dr Dean Sutherland, of Canterbury University, have been given $885,000 in taxpayer funding over the next three years to identify the best communication tools for those without speech.

Prof Sigafoos and Dr Sutherland will study 40 children aged between four and seven and hope to find enough families willing to take part in the project in Wellington and Christchurch, where the two researchers are based.

They will test responses to the three most common alternatives to speech for autistic children: electronic speech-generating devices, which include an iPad or iPod Touch with special applications installed and a range of text-to-speech machines; sign language; and pointing to or exchanging pictures.

Read in Full:  http://www.odt.co.nz/news/technology/130224/ipads-ipod-touch-may-help-autistic-children-speak



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