New autism learning technologies lab

Photo by Michael ClementsA new laboratory in UNT’s College of Information is determining technology products and tools that enhance the math, reading and social skills of children with autism spectrum disorders in kindergarten through sixth grade.

The Technology and Applied Research in Autism Laboratory, or TARA, opened in March at Discovery Park and is under the direction of learning technologies faculty members Demetria Ennis-Cole, associate professor, and Cathie Norris (’83 Ph.D.), Regents Professor. Researchers study how existing technology tools benefit children in the autism spectrum, including tools for augmentative communication — communication for those with impairments in their ability to produce or comprehend spoken or written language.

Supervised by faculty members and graduate students, the children will visit TARA up to three times a week to use software, computer games, social skills DVDs, reading devices, flash cards and sensory items. The researchers will study the tools’ effectiveness through experimental research designs that use pre-tests and post-tests, surveys of teachers and parents, and feedback from the children.

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