Education experts are raving over the Apple iPad, but not for its ability to help kids with their homework or influence secondary language fluency; in the spotlight today is the way Apple’s new iPad touchscreen device is revolutionizing the way we teach children with autism.
Even small children like 3-year-old Hudson Holmquist, diagnosed with autism at the age of 2, are learning to utilize the iPad as a means of communicating with the outside world. Gone are the hourly meltdowns which resulted from Hudson’s frustration at not being able to ask for something or say, “I feel sad.”
Says mom Laura, “The iPad has given us our family back.”
Approximately 1/110 children born in the US are autistic, according the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Below are 5 basic skills which autistic children learn by playing games and puzzles on their iPad:
- Social skills
- Fine motor skills
- Language and communication skills
- Sensory skills
- Stress reduction
Mark Coppin, the Assistive Technology Director at the Anne Carlsen Center in Jamestown, North Dakota says that the iPad is used in their special education programs for autistic children; the hands-on design of the iPad interface is much simpler for autistic children to use than a keyboard and monitor.
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Here are 10 popular iTunes apps which are marketed towards parents and educators of children with autism:
- Proloquo2Go Highly recommended for kids and adults with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, developmental disabilities, apraxia, ALS, stroke or traumatic brain injury, this app-turned-AAC device utilizes colorful stick-figure illustrations and features an up-to-date vocabulary, text-to-speech voices and automatic conjugations.
- Grace This innovative app allows special-needs children to communicate through complete sentences by linking together colorful images and symbols in this fully customizable application.
- iCommunicateCreate pictures, flashcards, storyboards, routines, visual schedules and record custom audio in any language with this versatile program; incorporates pictures from your camera or Google images. Helps to teach social skills for children with autism.
- First Then Visual ScheduleEase transitioning for children with developmental delays such as Autism Spectrum Disorders by introducing this easy-to-customize scheduler into your special-needs curriculum.
- iConverse An inexpensive program designed for iPhone and iPod touch, this app functions as a picture exchange communication system (PECS) for autistic children and autistic adults alike, as well as others with communicative disabilities.
- AutismExpress This free app displays basic facial expressions in a way which is comical and instructional; excellent for children who have difficulty understanding emotions.
- stories2learn Illustrate your own social stories for children with autism, using pictures, text and audio with this customizable program geared towards enriching the curricula of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
- MyTalk MobileThe MyTalk Mobile is an AAC device for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch; it also boasts the “My Talk Workspace,” which saves all info on a backup file in case of device crashing.
- TapToTalkMake your own AAC albums with this app, currently including a library of 2,000 pics. Children can tap on each image to hear fun audio.
- iComm Children who have cerebral palsy or autism will appreciate this fundamental communication system; iComm is an affordable alternative to many of the pricier communication devices.