July 1, 2014

technology appsWest Lafayette, IN – Purdue University has developed an app that teaches children with non-verbal autism how to speak. The app is called SPEAKall! and works by using pictures of the child’s favorite foods, toys and other familiar items. The pictures are moved to the bottom of the screen by the child, which prompts the app to speak the word, or a whole sentence containing the word. It then waits for the child to repeat the desired word out loud.

In an interview by local Lafayette news station WLFI, Oliver Wendt chief science officer of SPEAKMODalities and Perdue assistant professor of speech, language and hearing sciences said:

“What you need to know about children with autism is that they are vary visual learners. It’s much easier for them to process information if it is given to them in a vary visual, perceptual way.”

But as parents of children with autism will tell you, every day use of the SPEAKall! app is key.

“You have to do this stuff every single day from the time you get up to the time you go bed, or it’s worthless,”

Kendra Retting told WLFI news. Her 6-year-old son Stevie has severe non-verbal autism. His limited use of words and small sentences might seem insignificant to other parents, but to Retting, they are everything.

“First came tears, then a big party.”

Before using the app she thought full sentences would be impossible for Stevie. The Retting’s are just one of the 20 families Wendt and his team have been working with since 2011.

The app is available for download on the iPad and Wendt hopes it can replace the bulky-yet effective-speech therapy tools like books and cards. It has 21,000 downloads so far. The app can be downloaded here.

To read the article by Alex Maragos from the Wlfi.com here:

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