Journal of Medical Systems

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 703–711 | Cite as

A Smart-Phone Application and a Companion Website for the Improvement of the Communication Skills of Children with Autism: Clinical Rationale, Technical Development and Preliminary Results

  • Gianluca De Leo
  • Carol H. Gonzales
  • Padmaja Battagiri
  • Gondy Leroy
Original Paper


Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that is part of a group of disorders known as autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Today, one in 150 individuals is diagnosed with autism. Lack of social interaction and problems with communication are the main characteristics displayed by children with ASD. The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a communication system where children exchange visual symbols as a form of communication. The visual symbols are laminated pictures stored in a binder. We have designed, developed and are currently testing a software application, called PixTalk which works on any Windows Mobile Smart-phone. Teachers and caregivers can access a web site and select from an online library the images to be downloaded on to the Smart-phone. Children can browse and select images to express their intentions, desires, and emotions using PixTalk. Case study results indicate that PixTalk can be used as part of ongoing therapy.


Autism spectrum disorder Mobile technology Health informatics Communication 



We would like to thank the teachers and the parents of our subjects.

This work has been supported by two grants, “Using Smart-phones to Enable Interaction and Communication with Autistic Children” and “An Online Community for Teachers to Support, Observe, Collect and Evaluate Assisted Communication with Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder” both funded by Microsoft Research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gianluca De Leo
    • 1
  • Carol H. Gonzales
    • 2
  • Padmaja Battagiri
    • 1
  • Gondy Leroy
    • 2
  1. 1.Old Dominion UniversityNorfolkUSA
  2. 2.Claremont Graduate UniversityClaremontUSA

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