As Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnoses increase in prevalence, there is a growing need for assistive devices to help meet the communication needs of each person and their own unique set of challenges. Autism is a neurological disorder which most prominently impacts communication and social skills but can impact each person differently by way of coupled conditions. Of these conditions, two of the most common with Autism are Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and Motor Skill delays.

Additionally, to help with communication and language development, Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) techniques are often used, with tablet AAC applications being one of the most portable and economical solutions in alternative communication available today. With the current options for tablet cases, specifically for AAC communication, the coupled conditions of Sensory Processing Disorder and Motor Skill delays were not considered in their design or functionality. In order to make tablets with AAC applications more accessible for the children using them, an assistive tablet case was created. This tablet case design incorporated a magnetic overlay to provide motor skill assistance and prompting without unnecessary sensory input, interchangeable textures to improve sensory experience as well as stability features including a shoulder strap, stand and handle. Trials with a functional prototype and a tactile sensory board were performed with a Speech-Language Pathologist in the context of her therapy session. From the functional prototype trial, it was found that cursor prompting system was effective in providing elevated prompts when necessary and that an interest in the texture may be based on the maturity and diagnosis of the user. From the sensory study, it was found that there were trends of preferences for both texture and interaction type. Additionally, it was proven that the textures provided could be used for effective self-regulation. The design of this tablet case and study of its use create opportunities for the improvement of assistive devices in emerging technologies as well as exploring the concept of prompting without the use of human interactions.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Children with autism spectrum disorders--Services for; Children with disabilities--Means of communication; Tablet computers--Equipment and supplies--Design and construction

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Mechanical Engineering (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Mechanical Engineering (KGCOE)


Michael Schrlau

Advisor/Committee Member

Elizabeth DeBartolo

Advisor/Committee Member

Daniel Phillips


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes