What can an iPad do for a kid with autism?

Photo of Jeremia and his dad Zak courtesy of WLBZ TVEaster Seals Maine was featured in a story on WLBZ 2 TV in Portland, Maine about three-year-old Jeremiah, who uses iPad technology to communicate with his teachers and parents. Jeremiah is on the autism spectrum and receives speech therapy from Easter Seals Maine.

What I especially liked about this story was the way it spelled out some of the ways kids with autism can use iPads to express themselves.

His father, Zak Gould, suspected Jeremiah might respond well to the touch screen because he is a visual learner. Sure enough, they started playing with apps that allowed Jeremiah to make fireworks with the touch of a finger or pop bubbles, and he loved them. Other apps Jeremiah uses will show 3 photos on the screen, and the computer will ask him verbally to touch a specific picture. The computer congratulates him for picking the correct picture.
Jeremiah’s mother, Elise Gould, says she didn’t realize how many words her son comprehended until he started using the iPad. “It was almost like getting to know him a little bit more, and I think that was nice for him to be able to say, ‘Hey! I know how to do this, and I can do this!'”

Julie Fagone, Jeremiah’s speech language pathologist at Easter Seals Maine, was also quoted in the story. “We’ve seen an increase in his pointing, which is a big deficit in kids on the autism spectrum,” she said. “They don’t do these natural things, like pointing to call attention to something that interests them.” The story also points out how practical the iPad can be to families with autism.

His parents are teaching him to express his wants and needs by pointing at pictures on the iPad. It’s easier for them to take when they leave the house, rather than a large book full of pictures of things Jeremiah might ask them for.


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