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NIH Funds Expansion of Research on iPad-Assisted Language Development

Autism Speaks-funded pilot study suggested that speech-generating devices help minimally verbal children with autism learn to speak
November 19, 2013


Earlier this year, autism researchers reported the encouraging findings of a small Autism Speaks-funded study on the effectiveness of using speech-generating devices to encourage speech in minimally verbal children with autism, ages 5 to 8. The findings created tremendous excitement in part because they countered the belief that if children don’t acquire language by age 5, they never will. [Read the full story here.]

Building on the success of that pilot study, the researchers have won a major grant from the National Institutes of Health to conduct a five-year, multisite clinical trial. Recruitment is now underway with a goal of enrolling 192 children. The NIH grant comes through its Autism Centers of Excellence program, and the researchers include Ann Kaiser of Vanderbilt University, Connie Kasari of UCLA, Cathy Lord of Cornell Weill Medical School and Tris Smith of the University of Rochester.

“Innovative technologies, including iPads and other devices, continue to show promise for non-verbal individuals with ASD,” comments Alycia Halladay, Autism Speaks senior director for environmental and clinical sciences. “This research study will help document in a scientific study the extent to which this happens.”

The researchers hope to publish the results from their Autism Speaks pilot study in spring 2014. The expanded NIH study will continue through the spring of 2017.


You can explore all the research Autism Speaks is funding using this website’s grant searchSubscribe to Autism Speaks Science Digest for autism research news, blogs and more – delivered biweekly to your inbox.