Assistive technology and autism research

There's a growing gap between the number of children with autism who require early intervention and the therapy available for them. To address this, we're working with partners to research new tools and technologies to aid learning.

Our research goals

Working alongside our partners Autism West, Gateways, Barwon Health and our colleagues at IMPCA, we aim to produce the following outcomes:

  1. Flexible frameworks for stimulus presentation and recording, for early intervention in social and cognitive/visual areas.

  2. Open-source infrastructures to leverage content and metadata from social media, laying the foundations for re-usable content in early intervention.

  3. Assistive technologies to find appropriate information from forums and blogs, focusing on autism.

  4. Early warning systems of mental wellbeing, measuring affect in text-based social media and appropriate triggers for social support.

  5. New tools for assistive support for communication and social function.

TOBY Playpad: An exciting new learning platform

We created a portable platform that delivers early intervention therapy to children with autism, using multi-touch interfaces on an iPad. It delivers stimuli of increasing complexity and adapts to a child's performance over time.

The platform weaves natural environment tasks with iPad tasks, so the learning platform integrates early intervention into the child's daily life.

We developed this work as a app that can be used as an adaptive early intervention program for children with autism. It monitors each child’s performance and adjusts lessons accordingly. The app is distributed through the iTunes store and is being used by children worldwide.

Impact of TOBY Playpad on autism

Parent feedback tells us that, thanks to TOBY, children are learning new social, cognitive and sensory skills.

The technology won the 2011 Curtin University Commercialisation award.

My three-year-old was non-verbal (except for ‘no!’) and couldn't imitate, match or sort. With TOBY I finally had some direction. Now my son can imitate, knows his colours and shapes, and can match. He's also starting to approximate words. A BIG thank you to the TOBY people! We're so excited by our son’s progress and thankful to have been on this trial!"


Contact us

Centre for Pattern Recognition and Data Analytics (PRaDA)
General enquiries
+61 3 5227 8797
Email PRaDA

School of Information Technology
Deakin University
Locked Bag 20000
Geelong VIC 3220