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Clinic Notes: Do iPads Apps Really help Children with Autism?

Posted Feb 17 2012 10:51am
Recently a number of blog posts and online articles have asked if iPads apps really do help children with autism. These authors correctly point out that there are no empirical studies comparing the progress of children with autism who have the opportunity to use the many programs available to those who do not have the opportunity. At the same time many parents of children with autism are holding fundraisers to buy an iPad for their children with the idea that the iPad will help their children well beyond any other methodology currently available. Well, it would be hard to do empirical studies. Of course the control group would not get an iPad while the experimental group would. So the question could be asked is that ethical? Also these studies would be difficult for other technical reasons and after the studies were completed I don’t know if we would know more than we do now.
At the Children’s Treatment Center we use iPads with all of our kids with autism as well as other disorders. I bought iPads for all my grandchildren for Christmas and they are normally functioning. I am an app developer for Apple and do have a vested interest in the sale of apps, but I personally am convinced, as are many others, that the positive effect that I see with children who come to our clinic as well as my own grandchildren is overwhelming. The iPad holds the child’s attention like nothing else I have seen in my forty years of practice. Learning is fun as it should be. Yes the evidence is anecdotal not scientific, but much like asking the question is eating good for you. Do we need a scientific study?
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