The tablet technology of the 21st Century has opened a new door for people affected by a wide range of disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, autism, stroke, traumatic brain injury, and Lou Gehrig’s disease. Researchers are now able to create low-cost apps which allow them to connect with people who have developmental and acquired disabilities much more quickly and, in some cases, more effectively than before. These apps can focus on either specific skills, such as scheduling daily activities, or can act as Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices for people who are nonverbal, meaning they can use the tablet app as their digital voice.
Traditionally, the therapy for people with the aforementioned disabilities remained quite static. It involved many repetitive activities which were pushed at confronting the issues people with face in their daily lives, such as social, cognitive, and physical problems.
According to a report done by Kotaku, based on a Harvard study, the tablet may have changed or supplemented the way treatment is done. For example, 10-year-old Griffin Wajda is afflicted by autism. He deals with issues other sufferers of this disability experience as well: problems with communication and basic social interaction. However, with the introduction of a tablet and a creative program, Griffin and his brother create interactive conversation by creating pictures to narrate their stories and language. Of course, this does not replace all of Griffin’s traditional therapy but it gives therapists a new and innovative way to approach his treatment.
The benefits of such therapy can be seen immediately in cost alone. A prime example of this is called Proloquo2Go, which costs $189.99 and is an iTunes application. It gives users who lack speech skills the chance to use text and imagery together to create words. The user can then play these words and use it as their voice. In comparison, traditional therapy costs can grow into the thousands of dollars fairly quickly.
It will certainly be interesting to see what the future holds for this quickly developing technology. Some researchers are even offering their work for free, further increasing the rate at which these useful apps can reach target audiences.
Holly Emmons contributed to this article