Apple’s iPad Finds a Place with Autistic Children

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.”