Nav: Home

Delft University of Technology designs language development toy for autistic children

February 27, 2007

Helma van Rijn has developed a toy that uses a new method for teaching words to autistic children. She developed this toy as part of her graduation project at Delft University of Technology's Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering.

Helma van Rijn's graduation project focused on the language development of autistic children. She has developed and tested a toy that can help autistic children develop their language skills - and the learning of new words in particular.

The electronic toy, which is called LINKX, consists of blocks that the children must place against a specific object. The objects - for example a table or a window - are equipped with a small electronic device of a certain colour. If the children place a block against such an object, the block lights up in the same colour as the object and the child hears the word that corresponds to the name of the object (this word has been pre-recorded by the child's parents).

Van Rijn has tested this method on autistic children (aged 3-5 years old). Parents and teachers have reacted extremely positively to LINKX. More importantly: it appears that the children do indeed learn new words, although it is still too early to arrive at any definitive conclusions about the long-term effects of the toy. Following further tests, the project group for which Van Rijn designed the toy in question, plans to include the toy in its product catalogue.

Van Rijn: "The most important thing is that I first thoroughly familiarised myself with these children and then, based on my experience, I created the design. I also worked very intensively with the parents, because they are the experts with regard to autistic children".

The approach taken in the design represents a departure from the most commonly used methods; these methods primarily require children to learn the language via a computer. Van Rijn's method is clearly based on real-life experiences.
-end-
Van Rijn plans to expand her graduation project and pursue a PhD at Delft University of Technology in 'designs for difficult-to-reach groups'. According to graduation project supervisor Prof. Pieter Jan Stappers, the product designers of today have very little understanding of such difficult-to-reach groups, which consequently leads to many problems and misunderstandings, for example the use of telephones by elderly people.

Delft University of Technology

Related Language Articles:

The world's most spoken language is...'Terpene'
If you're small, smells are a good way to stand out.
Study analyzes what 'a' and 'the' tell us about language acquisition
A study co-authored by an MIT professor suggests that experience is an important component of early-childhood language usage although it doesn't necessarily account for all of a child's language facility.
Why do people switch their language?
Due to increasing globalization, the linguistic landscape of our world is changing; many people give up use of one language in favor of another.
Discovering what shapes language diversity
A research team led by Colorado State University is the first to use a form of simulation modeling to study the processes that shape language diversity patterns.
'Speaking my language': Method helps prepare teachers of dual language learners
Researchers at Lehigh University, led by L. Brook Sawyer and Patricia H.
The brain watched during language learning
Researchers from Nijmegen, the Netherlands, have for the first time captured images of the brain during the initial hours and days of learning a new language.
'Now-or-never bottleneck' explains language acquisition
We are constantly bombarded with linguistic input, but our brains are unable to remember long strings of linguistic information.
The secret language of microbes
Social microbes often interact with each other preferentially, favoring those that share certain genes in common.
A programming language for living cells
New language lets MIT researchers design novel biological circuits.
Syntax is not unique to human language
Human communication is powered by rules for combining words to generate novel meanings.

Related Language Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...