iPad for autism; communication, learning and creativity at the tip of the fingers
ATT has received a donation from the Big Lottery to purchase 4 iPads. We intend to lend these to our families for a period of 3 months with some initial guidance on how to assist the child to maximise the use of the device, based on his or her communication and learning needs. Below is more information about what can be achieved with this totally revolutionary technology. It’s a very exciting and important development for autism.
The iPad is a relatively recent technological development that offers great potential for people with autism. This computer interface can improve the efficacy of language instruction and augment the communication skills of people with autism, even those with severely impaired speech. In this respect the iPad offers far more possibilities than most Augmentative Communication Device or techniques developed so far. It allows a person to communicate for example, with pictures, avoiding the troublesome search through numerous pictures to select one to convey a specific meaning (e.g. iCommunicate, iConverse, ProLoquo2Go). The meaning of the pictures can be read out loud, even with a pre-recorded culturally compatible accent (e.g. See Touch Learn). This method of communication can be taken anywhere. It can also assist with the formation of sentences, not solely from a grammatical and vocabulary view point, but also with a semantic support, assisting in linking a sentence to its meaning with supporting pictures (see links below for a range of applications).
The iPad can also provide entertaining means to teach almost any skills, ranging from literacy (ABC Writing, Montessori Crosswords, Making Sentences, Trace Right!), and numeracy (Intro to Math, Montessory, FlashToPass Free, Kids Math, etc covering the full curriculum), to decision making (e.g. Choice Board Creator), sequencing (e.g. Zorten.com/Making sequences), short-term memory, planning, which are all beneficial and complementary skills also commonly affected in autism.
An iPad also provides effective means to teach appropriate behaviour in a given situation, for example through video modelling, or social story (e.g. Story builder). It also assists creativity, for example making collages (Mixel Application), editing photos or videos (8mm Miniatures, Vimeo App), making music (e.g. Dropophone and Drums Applications), or drawing (Inkpad, SplatterHD, Zen Brush, Doodle Buddy).
The iPad is particularly effective because of the use of concrete visual information of a highly motivating and stimulating nature, with reduction of distracting information. It is socially appropriate and can be seen as being an asset to a person, rather than other forms to assistance typically used by disabled people with associated stigmatisation. Complex aspects of language can be addressed in a logical and structured manner and taught effectively by progressively addressing more and more complex skills, with prompting strategies in place if required and clear rewarding outcomes upon completion of an activity. The device also requires minimal motor skills, which can also be affected by autism. Furthermore, it is possible to use this device to monitor performance, communicate the outcome of an activity to any party over the Internet, and some independent schools have started to use the ipad as a base upon which an entire curriculum can be built (e.g. Cedar Academy in Greenock).
Autism Treatment Trust is in a position to lend to families some iPads with a range of selected autism applications and to demonstrate with the children how the device can be used. It is hoped that this assistance will provide further opportunities for families and individuals with autism to potentially benefit from such a device. Ideally, the device should be made available to all individuals with an ASD, with some initial support on how to maximise its use.
The iPad, a useful tool for autism. 2020.
For more Applications, use the Autism Apps to search through a wide range of applications with direct applications to autism.