Apple’s iPad Finds a Place with Autistic Children

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Apple’s iPad has worked its way into people’s personal lives, schools, the work place, and now it’s serving as an educational and communication tool for autistic children, too.

The popular multimedia tablet device is proving to be a powerful tool for autistic children as well as their families and the specialists that work with them, according to Inforum. In addition to teaching autistic children the skills they need to better interact with the people they encounter every day, the tablet also serves as a tool they can use to express themselves more effectively.

iPads as tools for autistic childrenApple’s multi-touch interface coupled with the graphic nature of navigating the iPad has made the device a great fit for many autistic children because they can easily identify icons and tapping with fingers has proven to be much easier for them than trying to hold and use a traditional stylus.

“It’s a voice,” commented Missy Brademeyer, mother of an 11 year old autistic child. “It’s their voice, and it’s affordable to the point that many kids have the capability of having it.”

Cade, Missy and Mark Brademeyer’s son, uses iPad-specific applications like Proloquo2Go to supplement his sign language skills and limited spoken vocabulary.

“Cade has definitely become more communicative and is independently trying to say new words that he was previously only signing,” said Anne Carlsen Center special education teacher Mary Lewis, who works with the Brademeyer’s son.

Autistic students also use the iPad to learn other skills taught in school.

While there are other touch-based tablets on the market, so far it’s the iPad that seems to be the device where many autistic children are having the best luck. It also isn’t covered by insurance companies like traditional assistive communication devices, but at US$499, it’s thousands of dollars cheaper.

For the students that do gravitate to the iPad, however, it seems to be a valuable tool. Many of the Anne Carlsen Center’s autistic students that use an iPad are retaining more of the information they’re taught, and they seem to be using the skills they’re learning outside the classroom, too.

“They’re having fun while they’re learning, and they’re engaged,” said Anne Carlsen Center instructor Sharon Olson. “And they can be independent. That’s huge for our kids. It’s something they can do. And they’re successful with it right away.”

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10 Comments Leave Your Own

Pat Mahon

My son Mark is 8 years old. He is severely autistic. We made sure to get him an iPad as soon as they came out in the U.S. (many months before a delayed launch here in Ireland). He uses it night and day. Approximately 7 months ago Mark’s first words in his seven and a half years were “I wan(t) pa(d)”...

I can’t put a price on the value of the iPad for Special Needs children.

With all sincerity, thank you Cupertino.

paikinho

Not to be a stickler for form, but I recently learned that saying “Autistic Kids” is not entirely proper.
It should be “kids with Autism”. To me the distinction seemed insignificant, but apparently it is not to those with “kids with autism”.

Autistic kids is kind of like saying deformed kid vs kids with autism meaning they are a kid first and any deformation being something unfortunate which has happened to them.

FlipFriddle

@PatMahon: Now that’s what I call an endorsement! Having only recently had a baby boy, I can only imagine your joy at hearing those few words. Good luck to your family and I hope this is just the start of connections with your son.

Pat Mahon

@FlipFriddle Thank you very much. It’s a long road but at least we are on that road.

Pat Mahon

@paikinho Trust me, it does not make a blind bit of difference. People who take time to point out something like that to someone obviously have not much else to worry about. I would stop anyone in their tracks if they started to ‘correct’ someone in my company about that.

Since my son was diagnosed my life has become an open book because at first one doesn’t know where to turn, so one has to open up in order to receive any help available. Believe me when I say, calling my boy ‘autistic’ or calling him a boy with autism, does not even register with me. Even as I type this I have no preference over the two.

But thanks for taking an interest in the subject. I hope that your life is never touched by this. All the best.

paikinho

Pat.
Thanks for your insight.
I tend to be a bit of an insensitive dolt most of the time so when I said Autistic Kids and our friends who have an child with autism corrected me I didn’t even realize it. I don’t tend to keep up what is right or wrong allegedly in these circumstances. Frankly, I don’t mean anything disparaging or insinuating or anything.

But my wife later suggested that I might say things differently since it is offensive to some folks.

I have a nephew who is autistic and my sister never made such a distinction, but to each his own. I guess for now I will just try to remember to say kids with autism so I don’t step on anyone’s feeling. Of course I probably won’t remember 1/2 of the time.

Pat Mahon

@paikinho Your sister loves her son. Your sister loves you. She made no distinction because there is none. Simple as that.
Your “friends”, (notice the quotation marks), were rude enough to supposedly “correct” you. They are either not dealing with the situation very well, (all too possible), or there was another agenda you failed to notice. Don’t beat yourself up over this. People sometimes feel guilt when family or loved ones have suffering children. I guess it’s hard to watch. I can tell from the brief exchange that you are far from insensitive. Please share these posts with your wife. Let it be food for thought. And good luck to you and your family.

Pat Mahon

My last post on this article.

For those interested here is a link to an interview I did with Allison Sheridan AKA @podfeet on her Nosillacast podcast about my son and the iPad. Just by way of explanation. Allison and I are friends since before Mark’s first words and when she heard our great news she asked me to talk about it on her show. I was in no way pimping the story. I was just willing to share. I’m about 30 minutes in if I recall correctly. Enjoy http://itunes.apple.com/ie/podcast/nc-2010-10-10-air-display/id81677867?i=88095652

Allison Sheridan

It’s wonderful to hear the story in Pat’s own words.  a better link though is: http://www.podfeet.com/wordpress/2010/10/10/281-air-display-why-to-abandon-backup-parallels-desktop-6-technology-autism/

Allison Sheridan
NosillaCast Podcast at http://podfeet.com
A technology geek podcast with an EVER so slight Macintosh bias!
Follow me at http://twitter.com/podfeet

Jeff Gamet

Pat -

Thanks for sharing, and I wish every child could have a family as wonderful as yours.

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