How to Get Your Kid With Autism That Wonderful iPad

So, you have a kid with autism and you know iPads can be awesome for kids with autism but your family budget isn't accommodating expensive right now, no matter how much of a difference an iPad could make for your child's ability to learn and play.

Basically, you know your kid with autism needs an iPad but you can't afford one. What to do? I'll tell you.

First, download an application from HollyRod Foundation's holiday iPad donation campaign to see if your child qualifies -- the two primary bases are family income and communication delays. (Everyone else: please donate to the HollyRod iPad campaign, either on their site or on CrowdRise.)

If your child doesn't qualify for the HollyRod campaign, don't fret. Instead, consider harnessing the combined powers of the holiday season and the Internet: set up an iPad fundraising campaign for your own child on ChipIn.com or GiveForward.com. These campaigns allow people to contribute whatever they can, directly to a fund that you set up. Then blog the campaign, tweet it, post it on Facebook, email friends & family -- enlist as many people as you can, cite as many articles as you need to to let everyone who cares about your child know how much your kid could benefit from an iPad.

Going hat-in-hand may not come naturally to you, but consider that you can ask as many or as few people as you like, that any contribution will make a difference -- and that you may actually be helping out all those relatives who wrestle with what to get your child for Christmas, Hanukkah, or birthdays. Remember: people can always choose not to contribute, but they can't contribute anything if you don't ask them.

Please trust me on this one: people are generous, the Internet is powerful, and your kid needs an iPad. It's a great combination. Good luck, and let me know if you have any questions.

P.S. If your child already has an iPad, iPod Touch, or access to an iPhone, tell friends & family who ask that nothing makes such kids happier than an apps-enabling iTunes gift card.


  1. This is excellent (and inspiring!) advice! We first got our hands on an iPad and Proloquo2Go because Max's school was trialing them, so we were lucky that we got to try before we buy, which we did and then we lived happily ever after.

    I am wondering if anyone out there has had any success getting their school district to buy their kid an iPad? They would actually be saving major bucks it a Dynavox is the other options because, if I correctly recall, it costs twice as much as an iPad. A

  2. You can get a dozen iPads (starting at $500) for the cost of one Dynavox ($6600 - $7600). So you'd think the SDs would be on it! And many private schools are, either on their own or through private fundraising (Leo's school has one in every room, thanks to one student's family foundation).

    The issues I've seen with public school districts (and insurance, and Regional Centers in California, and other public agencies that provide our kids with services) is that the iPad isn't a dedicated device like the Dynavox -- so it gets disqualified.

    I would love someone to tell me that I'm wrong, and that the dedicated-device bias is fading!

  3. I just found this. We really want to get an iPad for our son, but were just denied through a local organization that helps with assistive technology. I'm definitely going to look into that online fundraising idea. Thanks!

  4. I love your blog!! Every time I come on you have the great things! I too cannot afford an I Pad at this time but would love to get one for my daughter. My parents and in laws are seniors on fixed incomes so I hate to ask them for money. I am going to fill out an application!
    Thanks so much.

  5. Anonymous7:25 AM

    I'm a school-based OT in Arkansas with 15 years of experience behind me. I have been a part of numerous adaptive communication evaluations with numerous sources of funding. I also think the iPad has been the biggest game changer in my practice since I graduated. Our school district of twenty-nine schools bought 1 for every SPED teacher, SLP, PT, and OT. The beauty of the device is the appliance nature-it becomes whatever the app is designed to be. However, the 'home' button is the roadblock we are running into.
    All Dynavox's run on top of Windows XP. However, insurance companies will not pay for a computer so Dynavox 'locks' access to XP preventing the family from running it as a computer. Last year Dynavox would unlock Windows XP for $75 from the family. Don't know if the fee has changed in past 4 months.
    As long as the home button can't be disabled by an app the insurance companies are going to see it as a great communication device that scales incredibly well-that mom and dad are going to use to update their Facebook status.
    Apple has a feedback mechanism on their website. I urge everyone to go there and suggest they implement an API to 'approved' vendors to add this functionality. I'd they did they'd sell thousands more and the gesture to the disabled community would be priceless in the PR world.

  6. Heres a question for someone with a background in law. Doesn't the assitive technology act of 1998 state that if an assistive communication device is written into a childs IEP that the school district must provide it? If it is proscribed as a necessary communication device from a therapist or other medical professional, how could they deny providing one?

  7. Anonymous5:30 PM

    "Unwritten rule" for those that write the IEP's... NEVER EVER write a specific device (brand/model) into the IEP. You'll see AAC or other generic terms, never iPad or Dynovox etc.

  8. Anonymous9:30 AM

    If my child has a special need during school and requires a communication device... then they would need the communication device for weekends, evenings and summers! Why ask my school district to provide something that I should obtain for their use in every setting? We need insurance companies to change their thinking.


Respectful disagreement encouraged.