Scientist designs language development toy for autistic children

Feb 27, 2007

Helma van Rijn has developed a toy that uses a new method for teaching words to autistic children. She developed this toy as part of her graduation project at Delft University of Technology's Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering.

Helma van Rijn's graduation project focused on the language development of autistic children. She has developed and tested a toy that can help autistic children develop their language skills - and the learning of new words in particular.

The electronic toy, which is called LINKX, consists of blocks that the children must place against a specific object. The objects – for example a table or a window – are equipped with a small electronic device of a certain colour. If the children place a block against such an object, the block lights up in the same colour as the object and the child hears the word that corresponds to the name of the object (this word has been pre-recorded by the child's parents).

Van Rijn has tested this method on autistic children (aged 3-5 years old). Parents and teachers have reacted extremely positively to LINKX. More importantly: it appears that the children do indeed learn new words, although it is still too early to arrive at any definitive conclusions about the long-term effects of the toy. Following further tests, the project group for which Van Rijn designed the toy in question, plans to include the toy in its product catalogue.

Van Rijn: "The most important thing is that I first thoroughly familiarised myself with these children and then, based on my experience, I created the design. I also worked very intensively with the parents, because they are the experts with regard to autistic children".

The approach taken in the design represents a departure from the most commonly used methods; these methods primarily require children to learn the language via a computer. Van Rijn's method is clearly based on real-life experiences.

Source: Delft University of Technology

Explore further: Experts call for higher exam pass marks to close performance gap between international and UK medical graduates

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tech world crawling into the crib

Jan 10, 2013

One is never too young to be connected. The technology industry displaying its wares at the massive Consumer Electronics Show this week in Las Vegas included a variety of products and apps aimed at the youngest ...

Boy's story sparks hope, skepticism in autism community

Apr 16, 2009

The twiggy boy who greets strangers at his Cedar Hill, Texas, home with a handshake and an impish grin bears no resemblance to the toddler who shied away from contact, screamed when he had to walk down the stairs and spent ...

Unusual use of toys in infancy a clue to later autism

Nov 06, 2008

Researchers at the UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute have found that infants later diagnosed with autism exhibited unusual exploration of objects long before being diagnosed. Studying a group of children at high risk for developing ...

Robots to help children to form relationships

May 29, 2007

A project which is using robots to help children with developmental or cognitive impairments to interact more effectively has just started at the University of Hertfordshire.

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...