Researchers at the Kinney Center for Education and Autism Support at St. Joseph University have tested a high-tech approach to improving the social and communication skills of nonverbal and verbal with autism children. The promising results, which showed equal efficacy between the new and previously tested communication methods, were recently published in Autism Research.
McCleery and Gilroy recommend a larger study as a next step to further test the results of the pilot study. The authors do not report conflicts of interest. The research project was funded by the People program (Marie Curie Actions) and the RESPECT programs under the REA grant agreement.
“Parents and families have long sought an effective application-based, approach,” said executive director of academic programs at Kinney Center and mentor in the study, Joseph McCleery, Ph.D. “Our research shows that this application is as helpful owing to the highly documented and evidence-based picture card intervention.”
McCleery and colleagues at the National University of Ireland in Galway used a randomized controlled study to train behavioral communication to non-vocal, discrete autism students. Thirty-five children participated, aged between 5 and 13 Years. Some children received the intervention using standard communication books, phrases, and picture cards. Others have used an application that converts images into sound, also called speech-generating devices. The results showed similar improvements in communication and social amid the two groups.
The study was performed involved comparison of traditional picture card technique to the free and open-source for the application of social and communication training to children with ASD autism spectrum disorder.
“It is crucial that research follow the evolution of technology,” says lead author Shawn Gilroy, now an assistant professor at Louisiana State University. “This explicit application is open source and available to all.”