How iPads Can Help Children With Autism Learn and Play
|photo (c) 2010 Kelly Nicolaisen|
Benefits: Accessibility and Convenience
- No cursor analogy – direct touch screen
- Fine motor ease – stylus/mouse not required
- Can replace backpacks – and cupboards -- of activities
- Entry level iPad 2 (16 GB Wi-Fi) is $499
- Original iPad 16 GB currently on eBay for less than $400
- Other AAC devices (Vantage, DynaVox, etc.) cost several thousand dollars
- So much more than an AAC device
- Screen is big enough to be digital parallel to paper or books
- Keyboard and screen are in same space, most kids aren’t touch typists, child doesn’t have to move eyes from screen to keyboard
- Apps are organized, accessible, predictable framework
- Apps break learning down into discrete chunks, topic areas
- Learn without needing to read, including read-aloud books
- Learn independently or with support
- Incidental learning opportunities abound
Benefits: Social and Play
- iPads are cool, they attract other kids – including siblings
- Can support social skills, formally and informally
- Independent leisure time
o Learning activities
Is an iPad a Good Fit?
- Informal evaluation: Borrow one, or go to an Apple store
- Formal evaluation: SETT framework (Student, Environment, Tools, Teaching)
- Formal evaluation: AAC (Assistive and Augmentative Communication) at school, SLP, university
- Kids who can benefit might not qualify under AAC – e.g., Leo can speak “fluent requesting”
- Does not suit all fine motor needs, e.g., those who require tactile feedback to use touchscreens
- Makes me laugh, for kids like Leo, for whom independent is good!
- Valid concern for kids who crave screen time (so ... Screen Time app)
- Savvy kids can be experts, help other kids, mentor
- Kids can “shoulder surf” passwords
- Managing Access, under Settings: General
o Passcode Lock
o Restrictions: for specific actions:
o Deleting Apps (not in older iOS)
o In-App Purchases (costly, “Smurfberries” lawsuit.)
Choosing iPad Type and Size
- 16GB, 32GB, 64GB? Depends on needs
o If have computer backup, can swap out apps/content
o Movies are 1–2 GB
o TV episodes are 250 MB to 1.25 GB
o Apps are getting bigger – Mr. Thorne’s Phonics is 700+ MB
- · Wi-Fi vs 3G – do not have to activate 3G unless needed
Is an iPad 2 Necessary?
- No. But it is convenient.
- Instant photos and videos for social stories
- Immediacy and large size of photos, Photobooth -- all motivating
- “Mirror” photos and videos for practicing, modeling
o Social Questions
When iPads Are Not in Your Budget
- Go through insurance, school district – write into IEP
o AAC evaluation
o SLP recommendation
o Research (longitudinal studies are ongoing)
- Fundraise: Community/Online – it works!
o Free: ChipIn.com, GiveForward.org
o Commission: Crowdrise.com
- iPad Donation Charities
o A4CWSN.com, etc.
iPad Protection – Insurance, AppleCare, Loss
- All iPads come with 90 days of phone support and one year limited warranty
- Insurance (3rd party): Protects against damage and physical loss
- AppleCare: Service, support for technical issues, up to two years
- Purchased content loss:
o iTunes remembers purchased apps, will let you download the same app/version for free (now all media, not just apps)
o If something happens to your device, Apple can do a "Full History Regrant" of your iTunes account purchases
- Syncing and Backup
- Double-check your settings before syncing!
- Automatic vs. Manual settings.
- Syncing photos from Computer - Create dedicated folder in iPhoto, set iTunes > iPad > Photos to sync only those photos
Accessibility – Using Voiceover
- Can be tricky to use, doesn’t work with all apps
- In simple OS apps like All About Me, voiceover works well
- Works well with iBooks
iPad Protection – Cases vs Covers
- · Apple SmartCover
o Fun to rip off!
o Not great with grip or preventing slipping
- · Cases: Protection vs. Convenience
o Otterbox -- Can drive a truck over it. Installation is tricky.
o ZooGue – Strap mounting, carrying
o Targus 360° Rotating – sturdy, flexible stand options
o GumDrop Military Grade
iPad Styluses – Benefits and Caveats
- Styluses: Pogo, etc.
- Brushes: NomadBrush.com
- Spreadsheet constantly updated at http://www.squidalicious.com/2011/01/ipad-apps-for-autism-spreadsheet-of.html – collaborative effort with Jordan Sadler, an SLP, and Corina Becker, an adult with autism.
 Rosa, Shannon Des Roches. “The iPad: ANear-Miracle for My Son With Autism.” BlogHer.com. http://www.blogher.com/ipad-nearmiracle-my-son-autism.
 Shap, Jacqui. “It was one of those ‘Oh Wow’ Moments.” iPods, iPhones, & iPads in Education. http://ipodsiphonesineducation.wikispaces.com.
 “These are the questions a site team should ask itself when considering AT for a student.”
SETT Framework. http://edweb.tusd.k12.az.us/assistive_technology/AT_SETT.htm.
 “How to Get an AAC Evaluation:” PBS Parents Inclusive communities. http://www.pbs.org/parents/inclusivecommunities/augmentative3.html.
 Sistach, Francesc. “Links to Academic Articles.” iAutism. http://www.iautism.info/en/2011/04/09/links-to-academic-papers.
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