Do iPad really transform autistic children’s life for the better?
I got this question all the time. Honestly I was not able to answer it, because my son did not have I pad, and I had no intention to get him one either. So I referred people with this question to the internet. iPad is expensive, and families with autistic kids are strained financially as it is, and I do not like to start glorifying something that I just heard about, don’t have any personal experience with, and it can cost a lot of money to get it.
My son never been too technologically advanced. We just recently had success to teach him to control the computer mouse. We had a touch screen Pc for him which he loved, but never been too crazy about it. Until one day, he got to work with a new OT intern who brought his personal iPad to the session. He went crazy about it. After his therapy, Mr. Chad came out to show me how he did with new tasks on the iPad. I was amazed how quickly he picked up on the usage of this device.
To me it looked a very expensive very fragile gadget. I was really stressing out about him dropping it or hurting it with that big touch screen, but this tough little machine proved to be sturdier than I gave credit for. Bottom line, he loved it.
That afternoon I was talking to Amin’s dad about this, and the same night he showed up with an iPad for him. (Thank God for crag’s list, prices can be cut dramatically)
It was very exciting to load it up with some of the apps he already been familiar with. I have to tell you some of the autistic apps are really expensive. I did find solution for that to. I got some of the educational apps for free. There are tons of programs can be downloaded for free, and slowly the more expensive ones can be added. It was very tempting to download all the autism apps, but a little bit of self-restraint helped me to save hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Someone told me that during autism week (I believe on the first week of April, most autism apps are free to download, if you know anything about this please share your information with us).
Now, what we have is good enough for Amin until he masters it.
The little boy, or may I say the smart iPad kid figured out how to upgrade some of his apps when he mastered it. Little that his mom knew that these upgrades cost money, and sometimes not small amount, and since the CC info already in there, he just have to click OK when it asks for upgrade, and wola he has new and improved apps, and mommy have a bigger CC bill. Well we learn as we go, no more upgrades anymore without parental approval.
Now if I get the question do I think iPad is good for autistic kids? I can easily say “yes”. If you have the money go for it, get that for the kids.
You see the biggest challenge for most autistic kids are communication. There is some degree of limitation in that skill and iPad really helps to bridge that and help them to overcome successfully.
What I see, and experience with my son is that iPad is not just a little gadget but it is very valuable tool that can help my son to express himself better, to learn in a fun and educational way.
Most autistic kids are very visual learner too, iPad allows them to learn and experience in a visual way. Children who are more visual and able to learn quicker how to perform some task just looking at a step by step instruction, by simply touching the iPad screen.
I had to learn not to allow Amin to use the iPad a long period of time. He isolates himself while he is using it, and missing out on social interaction. So now we have scheduled time to use it, and If he does well with his work, he can earn more minutes to use it.
I love the iPad for my son and my daughter as well. They share it most of the time, and the other times they fight over it. Yes, nothing is perfect in this world, but this gadget came very close to that.