New Way to Communicate
Writer: Suzette Farnum
The iPad is not just for convenience or fun. It’s more than checking Facebook accounts, accessing the Internet, and playing games.
For some, the iPad is crucial to their everyday functioning. Parents and schools have found iPad apps that help special needs individuals to communicate and learn. One such child is Cole in Pearl City. Cole, who is 5 years old, is diagnosed with autism and is essentially nonverbal.
He started using an iPod at home with his parents when he was 3 to pick out pictures for his desires, but the buttons on the iPod were too small for many of functions that he needed to use so they have now switched to an iPad. He carries it at school in a case with a strap so that he can communicate with teachers and classmates. Cole uses an application called Proloquo to touch-type comments or statements with the various Picture Exchange Communication System-like choices.
For instance, tapping on “I want...” paired with an object like “computer” or making a comment by tapping “awesome.” He uses it to communicate how he feels, such as “I am...” with “happy,” “sad” or “sick.”
In school and at home for homework, he uses the typing feature to spell out words and type out math equations and answers like “2+5=7”. He also presses the “speak” button to give him a voice a programmed boy voice. This can be a long process, but it’s effective in helping him to communicate and enables the school and his parents to assess what he knows and is able to do.
His mother Judi is excited about how much progress he has been able to make now that he can communicate and is thankful that his school’s speech pathologist and principal have supported him in this way.
The iPad can be provided for nonverbal individuals by schools and can even be covered by health insurance. Organizations like Talk About Curing Autism Hawaii can inform parents how to navigate the process of obtaining an iPad for their child. Technology like an iPads is not just fun, it can open up a whole new world for special needs individuals.