Saturday, May 01, 2010
Autism is a communication disorder. Some children with autism are completely non-verbal, some have articulation problems and are difficult to understand, while others have problems with pronouns, tense, or sentence structure. Some children with autism learn to communicate by pointing and/or tantruming when the do not get what they want. Many of the behavioral problems seen in children with autism are due to the frustration over not being able to communicate. Sign language and Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) have been used in the extensively to try and establish communication in children with autism. Recently, electronic communication systems where a child presses a button with a picture on it and a computer generates a voice which "speaks" for the child has been the treatment of choice. These systems work very well, they are easy for the child to use, and the frustration over not being able to communicate disappears along with the behavioral problems. Unfortunately, these communication devices cost around $8000. The Apple Iphone can be converted into a mini electronic communication device with a download from the Istore and I understand that the new IPad has a similar app. The Ipad will be much more affordable but will not have as many options or be as indestructible as the $8000 device. Since language acquisition by age 5 is a good predictor of how children will do the cheaper IPad is something to consider.