iPad may be a key to unlocking the minds of children with autism - AmericaNowNews.com

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iPad may be a key to unlocking the minds of children with autism

Lots of people use iPads for work and play, and now the University of Arizona is looking into how the tablet computers can help children with autism.

Diamond Children's Medical Center treats many children with autism, and some of them have joined a study that could help change their lives.

We met six-year-old Gavin Achilles and his doctor, Sydney Rice - a developmental pediatrician and member of the University of Arizona Steele Children's Research Center.

Dr. Rice has an astounding goal. She says, "It's going to change the world."

That change is for children with autism, a neurobiological condition that makes it difficult to interact socially, communicate, and use language properly.

That's where the iPad comes in. Dr. Rice says the children already think it's cool, so they are using it, and so are their families. 

"Doing a study an connecting that with autistic children. It just make sense. It's kind of our normal routine anyway," says Gavin's mom, Erin Achilles. 

"He's been able to grasp technology easily and quickly. I've been pretty amazed at what he can actually do," says Gavin's dad, Jon Achilles.

When Gavin was born, doctors gave him very little chance of survival, but he proved them wrong.

You can't miss his parents incredibly positive outlook for their son.

Gavin still has many hurdles to overcome, but his mom and dad believe their first born child will thrive and succeed, and it might just be the iPad that helps him do that.

A $15,000 grant from the Community Foundation For Southern Arizona will pay for the pilot study to see how children and families are using iPads.

Then the next question for researchers will be, what's the best way to use them?

Dr. Rice explains, "So if over a one-month period, they make huge progress in social communication, we'll be able to go back at their applications and say, where did they spend their time and actually correlate what works."

And where you might go after that is life-changing. "The iPad helps you interact. So, it's already happening. If you can interact, you are able to get a job," Dr. Rice says.

His parents say technology, like the iPad, already is helping Gavin focus academically.

Like all parents, they are looking for every opportunity for their son.

Jon says, "We just hope that he's able to have, you know, a good life."

The researchers will have to find more grants in order to continue the study beyond the pilot.

They are working with Apple, the maker of the iPad, to try to create an application that will help with the study.

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