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KU autism researchers get $1.2M grant

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) -- University of Kansas researchers have received a $1.2 million grant to test whether an iPad voice output application can help children with autism.

The researchers will train preschoolers with autism and their classmates to use the app. The researchers want to determine whether the technology can improve their deficits in communication, social reciprocity and play skills.

The four-year study will be led by Kathy Thiemann-Bourque, a University of Kansas assistant research professor at the Juniper Gardens Children's Project in Kansas City, Kan.

She says many young children with autism have complex communication needs but do not develop functional speech. She has examined both peer training and direct teaching strategies to increase social communication between children with autism and their classmates without disabilities.