Disability Issues

Tablet gives autistic kids communication tools

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Fortune 500 company is working with children with autism to help with their development skills.

Motorola Mobility Foundation and Autism Speaks have partnered in an unique technology project that is increasing the level of communications among children with autism.

Joshua Nykolajcuyk, 8, plays with his Motorola Xoom Table. His mom Beth says his favorite is a Talking Tom app.

"It repeats what he does, it repeats what he says, so it encourages him to talk and to hear what it's saying back to him. A lot of times he walks, he looks for us to repeat what he says, so Talking Tom does that for him," said Beth.

Joshua was diagnosed with autism when he was 1-year-old.

"We noticed that he was losing some of his speech or babbling, and he wasn't waling or talking yet. And we did some reading into it and discovered he had a developmental delay," Beth said. "He didn't start talking until he was 3 and half years old."

The Motorola Xoom tablets were distributed last year to 25 families in San Diego and Chicago.

"We put together the top 10 apps that are most frequently used and the ones that the kids seem to enjoy most. Among them, is Talking Tom. I'd say that's number one, and Angry Birds is actually another one that children love because it's got counting, it's got a game, you know, coordination that's needed to use it. And they can do it with their family," said Eileen Sweeney, director of Autism Speaks.

Autism Speaks executive director Liz Klug identified the families for this project.

"We got a lot of feedback from Talking Tom. Kids seems to really enjoy the cameras, the video cameras, not necessarily the apps, but some of the built-in features -- the microphone because kids like to hear their voices recorded, and then you hear that over and over again," Klug said.

"It's helped him do things he might have not been able to do in a normal way a child could," said Beth. "He has delays in his fine-motor skills, he sometimes has a hard time writing with a pencil, where with a Xoom he can use his fingertip and create the letters. It's also taught him to spell by doing the ISstorybook program."

"I think technology has had a great impact on the families and people who are affected by disabilities because it lets them connect with each other in ways they may not have been before," said Sweeney.

"The opportunities are absolutely endless, and I think we're just starting to explore the tip of the iceberg in what this particular technology offers to our families," said Klug.

For more info visit http://www.autismspeaks.org/ and Motorola.com

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