Playing on a Tablet as Therapy

Griffin Wajda normally doesn’t answer questions. Often, the 10-year-old boy will mumble repeated phrases before being coaxed to talk.

But at a once-a-week afterschool program run by University of Iowa researchers at an elementary school here, he has started opening up. Recently sitting in front of a Dell touch-screen tablet computer, he traced a big circle with a stylus around a group of stick figures drawn moments before by his brother seated across from him. When his mother asked him to explain the picture, he replied, “Summer school.”

Griffin was learning to interact with his brother with the help of a collaborative-storytelling app designed by the Iowa researchers that requires autistic children to imagine stories aloud with their peers as they add on to each other’s drawings on the touch screen.

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