A school in Connecticut is using iPads to help autistic students to be able to communicate with their teachers and families. The touch screen system that the iPad uses works well with children who have difficulty communicating verbally and are able to use their hands and fingers to manipulate and interact with the iPad screen. There are some apps that have been designed for students who are non-verbal to use in order to indicate what they know, what they want, or what they need.
The Milford school district recently purchased three iPads that were handed to families of autistic students in their district. The autistic child could use the iPad to communicate with his or her family, at home, when school is over for the day. The district owns the iPads, and the families will have to return them at some point. Each iPad costs about $600, and it cost another $100 to $200 dollars to load the appropriate apps onto the iPad.
This is just one example of how new forms of technology can be used to help children who have special needs. The iPad offers a more interactive experience than other communication devices can, so long as the child that is using it has the required amount of large and small motor skills. Another advantage of the iPad is that it can be easily modified to fit the needs of the next student that uses it. It may seem like an expensive financial investment initially, but it is still less than what other desktop communication devices can cost.
Carey and Dan Tedesco have a son who has autism. They started a company called HandHold Adaptive because they wanted there to be something better out there then the typical laminated card communication system that many schools use to help autistic kids communicate. They created some apps for the iPhone and the iPad, including one called iPrompt.
The iPrompt application uses pictures and icons to help an autistic child communicate his or her needs, and to follow a schedule. It does what the laminated cards have done, but is an improvement. The iPad or iPhone is something that can be held in one hand, and is easily transportable. The laminated card system, on the other hand, has some limitations. Cards can be blown away on a windy day on the playground, or can be lost inside a disorganized desk. The icons on the iPrompt will not have those problems.
They also created an app called AutismTrack. This app can be used by parents in order to keep track of their child’s behavior, therapy, medication, and diet information. Instead of carrying around a folder full of notes, or searching for a pen after medication has been given, you just use the app. It’s quicker to use, easier to do, and you won’t have to worry about misplacing some of your notes.
Image by Sean MacEntree on Flickr