Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Hand-held device can help non-verbal children with Autism Spectrum Disorder communicate

Andrea Moore - All Headline News Staff Reporter
Virginia (AHN) - University of Virginia neurolinguist Filip Loncke has the only research site in the United States which creates a hand-held device that speaks for those who are unable to speak for themselves, a barcode reader called the B.A. Barâ„¢ that was developed in Switzerland by the Federation Suisse des Teletheses and made available in that country in 2001.
The barcode reader provides auditory feedback when passed over the same kind of black-and-white strip used on grocery store products.
Loncke's device is first used to program the barcodes with words or phrases; the barcodes can then be fixed to objects, pictures or places. The user scans the barcode with the device, and it says the word or phrase. Loncke's research shows that it is more helpful than simple pictures.
One of the advantages of the B.A. Bar is its versatility. It has been used with people from the ages of 2 to 89 and has helped them learn or relearn how to speak and become more independent. Loncke and his research team are using it for several research and clinical applications.
There are two million Americans are not able to communicate easily or not at all with words, from children with autism and Down's syndrome to adults who have speech loss due to a stroke.
Loncke says the barcode reader is easy to use - an adult can learn it in one session, and a child with Down's syndrome can become confident with it in six or seven.