Posted 7:23 AM 6/5/2012 : UA Study on Autism: 6-year-old Tucson boy uses an iPad, and develops his skills
TUCSON- Many of us use an iPad to surf the net, or snap pictures, but one Tucson family is using the technology to help their child live a better life.
The parents are using the iPad to teach their autistic son how to develop his communication skills.
Like many children six-year-old Gavin Achilles loves his toys. But when Gavin uses the iPad it's not all about fun and games.
"It has really helped guide him to have a happy life," Erin Achilles, Gavin's mother says.
Two months ago doctors diagnosed Gavin with autism. "He's very hyperactive and it's hard to explain, but his brain has a hard time slowing down," Father John Achilles says.
Then Gavin began playing with an iPad and he and his parents noticed a change.
"It helps you calm down and take a breath," Gavin says.
The effect is now at the center of a pilot study being carried about by the UA Steele Children's Research Center. "Kids with autism like iPads just like anyone else," Dr. Sydney Rice says.
Dr. Rice recently secured a $15,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona, to conduct the study among 30 autistic children, including Gavin. "What we're going to do in this part of the study is figure out how much time kids spend on iPads and what programs they're using," Dr. Rice says.
She hopes the answers will enable her and other doctors to work with programmers at Apple Inc. to develop more iPad apps for autistic children.
Dr. Rice plans to secure more funding to continue her research.
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