A therapy breakthrough pioneered in WA is set to revolutionise how millions of autistic children worldwide are helped to learn at home.
The tablet technology made for iPads will cost $100, a fraction of the thousands of dollars many parents of children with autism spend on therapy.
Known as the TOBY Playpad, it is designed to help families provide early intervention therapy in their own home as soon as their child is diagnosed with autism.
Experts say it will mean children can learn essential life skills even while they are on waiting lists for professional therapy.
About one in 90 children have autism, a type of developmental delay.
The technology was developed by Australian scientists led by Professor Svetha Venkatesh from Deakin University, WA autism charity group Autism West Support and a group of WA families.
It was funded though a Federal Government research grant and Autism West.
Autism West president Silvana Gaglia said the technology would help families worldwide.
"This is not a game for kids with autism," she said.
"It is a groundbreaking application which empowers parents and carers with children who have been diagnosed with the tools to immediately commence therapy activities during the crucial early intervention period."
Mrs Gaglia, whose 15-year-old son has autism, said she had done therapy "the hard way" over many tedious hours.
So far the application targets two to six-year-olds but all money raised from sales will go back into refining software, including programs for older children.
"This has never been about a money-making venture but we know it will revolutionise therapy, not just in WA, but globally," she said.
"At $100, the cost is about one-thousandth of the amount of money many families spend on therapy, which can cost $100 an hour."
Professor Venkatesh said the program would not replace one- on-one therapy but would bring a cost-effective and proved therapy into the home.
"The program is unique and helps the children learn more than 50 skills - things like matching socks - so it makes parents themselves therapists in a structured way," she said."The results in the trials were great. This is a fantastic outcome."
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