The iPad as many of you already know, is the electronic 'must have' in today's trending society. The iPad is a multipurpose and dynamic tablet that allows you to take pictures, shoot video, browse the web, download and use apps, play music, and much more. A question that we wanted to know was: Do they have a place for helping individuals with developmental disabilities? Of course they do! They provide many advantages to helping individuals with developmental disabilities. After much investigating and researching, we found what we thought to be some of the important advantages to using iPads with individuals that have developmental disabilities.
1. Intuition comes into play
If there is a lack of motor skills, the ability to touch rather than run a mouse or keyboard is much more intuitive. Individuals with developmental disabilities do not hesitate as much to use iPads and pick up what to do very quickly with their own intuition.
2. Can be used as a way to communicate
There are many applications that can be used for individuals to communicate what they want or are thinking. There are touch-to-speak apps, as well as simple Yes/No apps to voice preferences.
3. Motivates and engages
When an iPad is touched or swiped there is an instant outcome for the controller to see. This gives instant gratification and prompts the individual to keep going, because they can see what they are doing and what happens when they do something instantly. The iPad is a direct cause and effect for users, which makes this piece of technology inviting to any user.
4. Helps to learn social skills
Many times an individual will want to show someone what they are doing on the iPad. If they are interacting with others to show or demonstrate what they are doing they are furthering their social skills immensely.
5. Can be used as a therapeutic device
Many therapists are now using iPads as a way to get individuals with developmental disabilities to further their abilities or strengthen them. In one case a physical therapist was having trouble getting a patient with Down syndrome to be active. The iPad was set on the treadmill for the patient to use while walking and the patient was motivated to walk on the treadmill.
6. Aids with cognitive disabilities
Various activities on the iPad can help users to develop receptive language skills. Some individuals may never be able to speak, verbally or signing, so the ability to understand language is important. What is even more important is their ability to understand picture symbols. With the use of the iPad there are a plethora of applications that have images that, when touched, can make the sound of the image being touched (i.e. a picture of a dog and when touched, it barks).
7. Specialized applications
There are many applications to download on iPads geared specifically to individuals with developmental disabilities. There are memory practice applications, behavior related applications, social skill applications, music – visual – art applications, communication – speech – language applications, and many more. This is a fun and interactive way for individuals to learn and strengthen their abilities with the use of a fun piece of technology.
In addition to our research there are plenty of people out there who see the iPads advantages to individuals with developmental disabilities. The principal of P.G. Chambers in New Jersey noticed a change in one of their students after using an iPad in school, “She used to get very frustrated. I’ve seen a difference. The impact is incredible.”
In another story we read there is a boy who, because of many disabilities, has been unable to communicate his whole life. He can read, write and hear, but never had the ability to have a conversation. When his school received a grant, the special education teachers purchased iPads for their students and was the first time the young man was able to communicate or get his thoughts out. When he received the gift he typed on the iPad and the iPad spoke two words, "Thank you." His grandmother, who raised him, had never heard her grandson's thoughts until that day.