iPads and iPods for Learning & Autism: A literature review

iPads and iPods for Learning & Autism: A literature review

This article presents a summary of research published in peer reviewed journals which utilise an iPad or iPod as a learning tool for children and adolescents on the autism spectrum. This summary includes studies which evaluate and report on children’s outcomes. The use of an iPad as a speech generating device for AAC was not included in this summary.


  • A comparison of therapist delivered (verbal and picture stimulus) and iPad based stimulus during a discrete trial training intervention with two Preschoolers. One child showed increased on-task behaviours, completed the intervention in less time and showed reduced challenging behaviours. The other child showed no difference between the mode of delivery of the stimulus (Lee et al., 2013).


  • Parents taught four preschoolers to imitate the actions of others by making videos of adults and siblings doing everyday actions and routines (Cardon, 2012).


  • Preschool teachers developed a story using the Keynote app to provide a visual and auditory script of play dialogue using toys. Three out of four young children increased their spontaneous language during play with toys (Murdock, Ganz, & Crittendon, 2013).



  • A sixteen year old boy learned increased his participation in classroom discussions after watching video self models on the iPad (Hart & Whalon, 2012).
  • Video modeling was used to teach two primary school children to use the spell check function of a word processor (Kagohara, Sigafoos, Achmadi, O’Reilly, & Lancioni, 2012).
  • Two children (aged 3 and 7) showed an increase in academic engagement and a reduction in challenging behaviours when teaching was delivered using an iPad compared to using a traditional pen/paper approach (Neely, Rispoli, Camargo, Davis, & Boles, 2013).
  • Slideshows on the iPad were used to teach science terms effectively to three middle school students. This new learning generalised into their included setting. Teachers, peers and the students all agreed that the iPad was an effective and appropriate teaching tool (Smith, Spooner, & Wood, 2013).
  • Four adolescents with autism and intellectual disability learned functional maths skills after watching video self models on the iPad (Burton, Anderson, Prater, & Dyches, 2013).
  • Mixed results were found in a study of seven primary students using a Maths app. While there was no increase in maths skills, there was a moderate increase in independent task completion and a reduction in the level of teacher support required (O’Malley, Lewis, & Donehower, 2013).
  • Video Modeling on an iPad was used to teach a five your old boy to identify, write and comprehend the number quantities of 1 – 7 (Jowett, Moore, & Anderson, 2012).


  • Alexander, J. L., Ayres, K. M., Smith, K. A., Shepley, S. B., & Mataras, T. K. (2013). Using video modeling on an iPad to teach generalized matching on a sorting mail task to adolescents with autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 7(11), 1346-1357. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rasd.2013.07.021
  • Bouck, E. C., Savage, M., Meyer, N. K., Taber-Doughty, T., & Hunley, M. (2014). High-Tech or Low-Tech? Comparing Self-Monitoring Systems to Increase Task Independence for Students With Autism. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 29(3), 156-167. doi: 10.1177/1088357614528797
  • Burton, C. E., Anderson, D. H., Prater, M. A., & Dyches, T. T. (2013). Video self-modeling on an iPad to teach functional math skills to adolescents with autism and intellectual disability. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 28(2), 67-77. doi: 10.1177/1088357613478829
  • Cardon, T. A. (2012). Teaching Caregivers to Implement Video Modeling Imitation Training via iPad for Their Children with Autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 6(4), 1389-1400.
  • Cihak, D., Fahrenkrog, C., Ayrers, K., & Smith, C. (2010). The use of video modelling via a video iPod and a system of least prompts to improve transitional behaviors for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders in the general education classroom. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 12, 103-115. doi: 10.1177/1098300709332346
  • Hart, J. E., & Whalon, K. J. (2012). Using Video Self-Modeling via iPads to Increase Academic Responding of an Adolescent with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Intellectual Disability. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 47(4), 438-446.
  • Johnson, J. W., Blood, E., Freeman, A., & Simmons, K. (2013). Evaluating the effectiveness of teacher-implemented video prompting on an iPod touch to teach food-preparation skills to high school students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 28(3), 147-158. doi: 10.1177/1088357613476344
  • Jowett, E. L., Moore, D. W., & Anderson, A. (2012). Using an iPad-based video modelling package to teach numeracy skills to a child with an autism spectrum disorder. Dev Neurorehabil, 15(4), 304-312. doi: 10.3109/17518423.2012.682168
  • Kagohara, D. M., Sigafoos, J., Achmadi, D., O’Reilly, M., & Lancioni, G. (2012). Teaching children with Autism Spectrum Disorders to check the spelling of words. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 6, 304-310. doi: Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/17509467
  • Lee, A., Lang, R., Davenport, K., Moore, M., Rispoli, M., van der Meer, L., . . . Chung, C. (2013). Comparison of therapist implemented and iPad-assisted interventions for children with autism. Dev Neurorehabil. doi: 10.3109/17518423.2013.830231
  • Murdock, L., Ganz, J., & Crittendon, J. (2013). Use of an iPad Play Story to Increase Play Dialogue of Preschoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorders.Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 43(9), 2174-2189. doi: 10.1007/s10803-013-1770-6
  • Neely, L., Rispoli, M., Camargo, S., Davis, H., & Boles, M. (2013). The effect of instructional use of an iPad® on challenging behavior and academic engagement for two students with autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 7, 509-516. doi: 10.1016/j.rasd.2012.12.004
  • O’Malley, P., Lewis, E. M., & Donehower, C. (2013). Using tablet computers as instructional tools to increase task completion by students with autism (pp. 27-27).
  • Smith, B. R., Spooner, F., & Wood, C. L. (2013). Using embedded computer-assisted explicit instruction to teach science to students with autism spectrum disorder. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 7(3), 433-443. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rasd.2012.10.010
  • Vandermeer, J., Beamish, W., Milford, T., & Lang, W. (2013). iPad-presented social stories for young children with autism. Dev Neurorehabil. doi: 10.3109/17518423.2013.809811

No Comments

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.