Use of an iPad Application to Teach Communication Skills to Children with Autism

Grant Winners

  • Nurit Sheinberg, EdD – Mailman Segal Center for Human Development
  • Manny Gonzalez-Abreu, PhD – Mailman Segal Center for Human Development
  • Maribel Del Rio-Roberts, PsyD – Institute for the Study of Human Service, Health and Justice
  • F. Charles Mace, PhD – Mailman Segal Center for Human Development
  • Mathew Zaffos, BA – Center for Psychological Studies
  • Marisa Michetti, CCC-SLP – Mailman Segal Center for Human Development
  • Trina Morgan, CCC-SLP – Mailman Segal Center for Human Development
  • Jamie Rubin, CCC-SLP – Mailman Segal Center for Human Development
  • Heather Dern, MEd

Deans

  • Roni Leiderman, PhD – Mailman Segal Center for Human Development
  • Kimberly Durham, PsyD – Institute for the Study of Human Service, Health and Justice

Abstract

Award Winners

Current estimates by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention suggest the prevalence of autism to be one out of 110 children. Communication is one of the three domains of core diagnostic impairments in ASD. Children diagnosed with ASD present delays in their receptive communication skills. Advances in computer technology over the last two decades have increased the availability and application of computer-based interventions (CBI) to enhance communication skills for children with ASD. Tablet computers, such as the iPad, provide an innovative and promising modality to implement some of these interventions. CBI have been found to be effective for teaching communication skills with this group of children (Ramdoss et al. 2011). There is a need for additional research in this area, specifically studies investigating the relative efficacy of CBI versus person-implemented interventions. The goal of the study is to compare the effectiveness of teaching receptive language skills to young children with ASD using iPad-based instruction vs. person-based traditional ABA instruction. Thirty-two children, ages 3 to 5, with a diagnosis of ASD attending the Baudhuin preschool will participate in the study. The study will employ both single subject and group design methodologies. Each participant will receive instruction on one of the instructional programs each day for 8 weeks and then the program-instruction pairing will be reversed, constituting a crossover design. The group design will consist of a 2-factor mixed design, with the between group factor being high vs. low functional skills and the within group factor being instructional medium. Our data will be analyzed using the visual analysis methodology that is characteristic of single subject research design methods. In addition, the group data will be analyzed using ANOVA. The results of this study can have important implications in terms of effective educational instruction strategies used with this population.