Evaluating iPad Technology for Enhancing Communication Skills of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

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Mobile technology has introduced a new communication opportunity for students with autism spectrum disorder. Tablets, like the iPad, allow users to customize applications for their needs. Users also have found iPads to be less stigmatizing because so many people own them and use them for various purposes. In the fast-paced world of technology, however, research cannot always keep up. It is becoming more important for teachers and caregivers to evaluate the iPad and its applications for their efficacy in helping improve a child’s communication skills. A review of current research indicates that there are five important considerations for evaluation: (a) the ability to customize the application, (b) the motor skills the student needs to operate the system, (c) the resources and time needed for the intervention, (d) the research or evidence-based practices behind the application, and (e) the cost of using the specific device and application. A rubric delineating these considerations that can effectively guide teachers and parents in their evaluation process is provided.