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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)703-711
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Medical Systems
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2011
Externally publishedYes



  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Communication
  • Health informatics
  • Mobile technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Information Systems
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management

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