Autistic Communication Improved With iPad

By Carlos Garcia

 

In the United States, according to the Center of Disease Control, one in 110 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Usually, by the age of three, the disorder begins to uncover physical symptoms such as social skills.  For children with a severe case of autism, little interest is shown in communicating with people and most of the time it is impossible for them to express how they feel and what their needs are. However, even if children cannot express how they feel towards people either verbally, or physically, they show an outstanding interest towards the Apple iPad and its colorful apps with its easy-to-use touch and swipe screens. Statistics show that computers receive strong responses from autistic children, but nevertheless, the iPad is an effective tool because of its flexibility and portability. 

Unlike laptops and PCs, the touch screen and layout on the iPad provide stimulating programs for children with coordination or learning difficulties. Even without the help of a parent, or teacher, autistic children may find sliding and tapping with their finger easier than multitasking with either typing, or writing. Moreover, the iPad is not only just a fun tool for improving communication, furthermore it is also educational, and thus it is helpful for calming and focusing children wherever they go. For example, apps such as Proloquo 2 Go feature basic, simple, and specific categories of emotions, nouns, and verbs as an alternative communication solution with natural sounding text-to-speech voices, symbols, shapes, advanced word prediction, and a default vocabulary of over 7,000 items.

            Because of the customization options and the iPad is a 'cool tech device' that does not immediately mark a child as different, many view it as a more attractive option than the more traditional devices. Some children have been captivated indeed by the iPad with a new passion in finding the motivation to master quite a few new skills in a short span of time. People diagnosed with autism have a range of strengths and weaknesses as well as intelligence levels. Some communicate very well in writing even if their speaking skills are quite low. Many are visual thinkers and have strong technological and/or artistic skills. When engaged in a task, a person with autism may display a level of absorption and concentration that is lacking in the general population. In addition to boosting confidence, when he or she is strongly motivated, there may be a higher chance in achieving far more than the expected.

The iPad may not be a cure for autism but it is the next step towards opening up a new and brighter future for autistic children as well as adults. Furthermore, the use of technology can help fight against any blocks that may have the potential in stopping anyone from accomplishing any goal, or dream. With the use of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), an opportunity for the improvement in communication skills for autistic children is only one touch away from opening up new doors and the freedom to express oneself.