IPads have been a huge success with children. I use one in my practice sometiimes to teach cause and effect, give motivation, etc. Parents of children with communication challenges are finding the iPad technology can be a far less expensive solution to enhancing communication than the AAC devices that cost thousands of dollars. There aren’t yet perfect solutions for foolproof and reliable access of communication boards and buttons on the iPad, but I believe using the iPad for communication is like digital pictures vs film.
When I had to pay for ever photo I had developed was selective about how many photos I took. I missed many opportunities for creating memories. Once digital pictures became available I could click away without concern for costs. A complex AAC device worth thousands of dollars has to be a guarenteed to succeed to justify spending the money. How many school districts or parents can give children the time to discover if they CAN use the expensive talking devices? The relatively inexpensive and very available iPad makes it possible to let children with disabilities experiment with pushing buttons, cause and effect, and inexpensive speech programs.
I encouraged one client to purchase an iPad for her son who had autistic like behavior caused by Lyme’s disease damage in his brain. He had no speech but was very good at expressing his opinion and could follow some directions with lots of prompts. He preferred to figure things out for himself. He LOVED using the iPhone to listen to music and was very adept at going through the options so I saw the potential to expand his skill. With the new iPad he experimented until he knew how to do interactive programs, select shows on Youtube to watch, and demonstrated he knew all his colors, letters and could spell. Difficulty following directions at school meant no one had any idea that he had any of this knowledge. Once he could demonstrate what he knew his placement in school was changed and everyone had a whole new expectation of what he could do.
Still, an iPad IS a few hundred dollars, and if you put it in the hands of a child it will eventually hit the ground. This little guy’s mom came in one day with the iPad front glass completely shattered and held together by scotch tape. The good news is that she called Apple and they offered to replace it free of charge ONE time. It was up to her to buy a protective case….
This video shows protective cases from a parents perspecitve. I like that this mom has the cases there, shows the front, back, ports, etc., and points out the features that work and don’t work with small children. It’s worth a look if your child is using your iPad. Once you have listened to this review there are plenty of others on YouTube to help you select something that will protect your iPad from damage.