Autism and the iPad

Sixty Minutes released an interesting segment titled First Words about how beneficial and powerful iPad use has been to students who are diagnosed with Autism.  I truly believe there are some amazing educational apps for kids of all abilities. The video focused on children's difficulty with communication and how there is an app that helps kids communicate by the touch of a button. For example, a child who was nonverbal would click a few buttons and string a sentence together so the iPad was essentially acting as the "middle man."

But, what about sign language? Hasn't it been helpful for kids before? It may not be right for all kids but I  personally have seen the benefits of ASL for kids of varying abilities. On the flip side, I understand that it is easier for parents to communicate with their child using the iPad as opposed to learning a whole new language like ASL. Also, the last part of the video reminded me that speaking in English whether through the iPad or not, would allow the 25 year old man with Autism to order his dinner at a restaurant. So I guess I see both sides.

I also agree that the iPad is so successful with kids because it is multi-sensory. Kids who need visual or auditory stimulation are getting exactly what they need and they are able to control that input. This video reminds me how versatile the iPad is and how children learn in a variety of ways. Putting those two together is a great thing, and it is something I look forward to using in the classroom for kids of ALL abilities.

I would be interested to know how those specific teachers and parents balance iPad use. I know every student would be different in what they could handle but I would hope that there is some sort of balance without technology. For example, a student has trouble reading with a book so the teachers decide to try reading on the iPad, once that student found success with the iPad, would they balance reading on the iPad and reading with an actual book?

Here is the link the to the video: First Words Watch it through to the end and leave a comment with your thoughts about the story. I personally, would LOVE a set of iPads for my future classroom because I see the  learning benefits with their use. A concern I have for other teachers is making sure that there is a balance of non-technology based learning as well (i.e. I still love books and believe in outside play, etc.). Balance is key!

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