Why We’re Getting an iPad

I’ve got to get the word out. I think the Apple iPad is going to be an amazing tool for kids with autism, and we’re early adopters over at my place. We’ve placed our pre-order, and can’t wait to receive it on April 3!

When stirrings of the new iPad were floating around, an idea popped in my head. Hmmm. Josiah likes our iPod Touches. He seems to be a big fan of buttons and electronics. The touch screen is easy to grasp. So, if he’s drawn to the iPod, the bigger iPad could be great for him. Heck, I’ll even see if his ABA therapists would incorporate it into their therapy and we could shuffle it back and forth between therapy and home and see if we can’t give this kid a voice. They were all over it.

Here’s a video that gives a good overview of what an iPad does:

So, 5 reasons why to get an iPad for your child with autism:

1. It’s thin and lightweight=super portable and even COOL. Josiah appeared to be a good candidate for the DynaVox speech machine when they came and did an assessment. But for the life of me, I can’t figure out why these things cost $8,000. Is this the 1950s, and do they fill up an entire room? At first blush, I think the apps that are out there for the iPad (and those that will most certainly be developed) may give the 3″ thick and 10 lb. DynaVox a run for its money. The back and forth ease of the iPad between child and therapist, child and parent, home and school is going to be sweet.

2. It’s only $499–a one-time expense. Sure, I get that you would be hardpressed to find any insurance that would cover this expense–right now–but for all the money that flows like a river out of our household for various biomed, sensory items, therapies, and co-pays, $499 feels like a value to me for what we will get from the iPad.

3. There’s an app for that. The iPad will run all the downloadable apps currently available for the iPhone/iTouch, and there are many apps being developed specifically for the iPad as we speak. The sky is the limit for the apps that will be downloadable at the touch of a finger. Who has to worry about loading software on CDs? This is so much easier. From what I’ve observed, I believe Proloquo2go is going to be the foundational app to have on the iPad for Josiah. It’s kind of like your entire PECS functionality in an electronic version (see the video below), and you can also add your own pictures in. At $189, this app will likely to be the most expensive one we’ll ever buy, but it will be the most important. We can also load it on our iPod Touches for easy portability. Most apps cost $.00(free)-4.99. Go here, type in “autism” and you’ll see about 100 apps. Type in “preschool” and you’ll find about 500.

  • Some great apps I’ve found and am currently using:
    iCommunicate (simple visual schedules)
    LearnToTalk (Flashcards that talk and spell)
    Virtual wooden puzzles, shapes games

4. Internet, iTunes, photos, downloadable books, movies and songs–all accessible by touchscreen. The options are really endless when you control the content you wish to go get or load yourself. And for things like storytime, the child will be able to look at books and turn the virtual pages like you would with a real one. Penguin is currently developing interactive kids books and schoolbooks for the iPad that look incredible. Check it out!

5. You can get make it tougher with a good case. Now, I know the iPad will not be indestructible by little hands, but you can buy a great case to make it a little more rugged. I like this one: Hard Candy Street Case. It looks pretty protective, and you can take off the front cover and simply snap it to the back when the tablet is in use.

So, there you have it. My “case” for getting an iPad for your child with autism. It’s something that will grow with them, and will be helpful for little kids and older kids. We’re going to integrate it right into his therapy, get training that’s on the same page with his therapist and what is useful for home, and hopefully get Josiah more empowered to communicate, learn and get more speech. Once we get juicy Apple into our hot little hands, I’ll let you know how it goes!


9 Responses

  1. Wow! What a great idea! You will have to let me know how it works as I could see it being a great asset for our son, too. 🙂 I’m excited for you to receive the iPad!!!

  2. Getting an iPad too!

    Your site is such an amazing inspiration for parents of autistic children 🙂

    I couldn’t find your email address on this site but wanted to contact you about “Shape Builder” for the iPhone…i have first hand experience with many autistic children loving it and was curious if you heard about it.

    here’s the link 😉

    best wishes to your family,


  3. I got an iPad for my son. Actually using it to write this!

    I am thrilled with his level of engagement and I found a little app that is a cat that repeats everything he says! Wow speaking is a game! Talking Tom have a funny feeling it was free too!

    And my daughter who seems to have some sort of processing issue which means her spelling is simply tragic uses an app that reads what she types back to her so she can pick the words that don’t sound right! Speak it! I think it was only a couplu of dollars.

    When you compare the cost of an iPad to therapy… Well it’s the same as fours hours therapy for us! And I can play on it when they go to bed!

  4. Wondering if anyone has made use of the GPS capabilities in the iPad for alerting when a child has wondered or whether people think that is useful?

  5. […] realized that I wrote about “Why We’re Getting an iPad” last March, but I’ve never really followed up to tell people what the results have […]

  6. […] power of such a move. Several blogs dedicated to this topic showed how timely a topic it is. Josiah’s story,  ArtsEdTech, Kati’s Blog, all deal with the impact this will have on children. And looking at […]

  7. Tahni, noticed that your original post was nearly 2 years old, you r one of the most pioneer persons I’ve come across in recognizing the potential of iPad in helping children with autism.

    I’m a mobile technology veteran who has decided to answer my personal calling of years and founded of a social enterprise that aims to create technological solutions to help individuals with special needs cope with their daily challenges. I’ve developed Picture AAC app (http://heartyspin.com/solutions/pictureaac/) in collaboration with a local school serving students with more challenging forms of autism, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, and they needed a communication app that don’t have too many features which can be confusing yet has functions to enable customization like adding pictures, voice, sorting pictures. I designed in also training levels to help phase in children who are new to picture communication systems.

    My wife, who is a special education teacher, and I live in Singapore with our 2 young kids. I hope to play a role in creating more awareness on autism in Asia, especially to the non-English speaking communities.

    Look forward to hearing more stories on your son’s progress and experience with iPad apps.

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