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iPad Helps Children with Autism Communicate

ipad_angledThe virtues of the iBooks app and the iPad’s function as an eReader have been the subject of several previous posts here at In the Stax, and while most early adopters utilize the device for entertainment and productivity purposes, it is also emerging as an educational tool for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) that have communication difficulties. In a recent post for BlogHer Shannon Des Roches Rosa proclaims the family iPad, won in a raffle, to be a “near miracle” for her son Leo, who has autism. With several autism-focused AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) apps available, such as TapToTalk, Proloquo2Go, and iCommunicate, children with speech or communication difficulties can improve their skills and gain confidence. “We maintain a list of social questions for Leo to work on; with iCommunicate, we were able to create a list of answers to those questions for him to access and tap on any time — and (bonus) he even did some of the icons’ voiceovers.”

In an interview with The Globe and Mail Samuel Sennott, co-creator of the Proloquo2Go app, praises the iPad’s usability for the disabled. “It’s just a game changer,” he says. “It’s … [a] portable, table-top solution for people with physical impairments, people with visual impairments. You can see more on the screen.” The iPad becomes even more attractive to families when compared to other dedicated assisted communication devices, which can cost upwards of $10,000.

Several of the AAC apps can be used on the iPhone and iPod Touch as well as the iPad, and there is a certain coolness factor about Apple’s idevices that draws kids in. Special educator Maria Boggan writes in a post for Nerd News: “For students with Autism, the need to fit in and socialize with their peers is essential and doing that with an AAC is next to impossible. Now, if these students had an iPhone imagine how ‘cool’ and less obtrusive their communication could be!”

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