iHelp for Autism – The story of a boy and an iPad

Boy with iPad

This story begins with Shannon Rosa, mother of 9 year old Leo, winning an iPad in a raffle. This is what happens next:

Leo is Rosa’s 9-year-old son, and when people ask her about him, she is mindful to explain him in a way that will set appropriate expectations. He is a boy with intense autism, she says. He is not conversational, he learns very slowly, and he has been prone to violent outbursts. He is essentially a triple-sized toddler. Leo had shown interest in the iPod Touch, but its 3.5-inch screen was difficult for his fingers to navigate.

For all those reasons, Rosa had no expectations when she handed her son the iPad — a half-inch-thick, touch-screen tablet computer three times the size of its smaller cousin, the iPod. Though scrolling through the icons is easy for most users, the device was not created with special-needs consumers in mind.

So when Leo took it in his small hands as if it were an old friend, and, with almost no training, whizzed through its apps like a technology virtuoso, his mother gasped in amazement. After he began spending 30 minutes at a time on apps designed to teach spelling, counting, drawing, making puzzles, remembering pictures, and more, she sat down at her own computer.

“With the iPad, Leo electrifies the air around him with independence and daily new skills,” Rosa typed into an entry for BlogHer, a blogging network of women for which she edits and writes. Her blog was one of the first to bring widespread public attention to what one expert has called “a quiet revolution” for the autism community.

Read the full story at http://www.sfweekly.com/content/printVersion/2090215/

I hope you will enjoy reading this story, I certainly did!

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Two great apps mentioned in the story are

and

For an overview of apps for communication and learning see Jane’s blog posting on the 16th July – http://www.spectronicsinoz.com/blog/new-technologies/2010/07/iphoneipad-apps-for-aac/

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About Greg O'Connor

Greg has been actively involved in supporting the learning of people with diverse learning needs for over 30 years. During this time he has worked as a classroom teacher, school executive, district consultant and regional manager with the New South Wales Department of Education and Training, Australia. Greg’s areas of interest and expertise include supporting people with complex needs, challenging behaviours and autism, and literacy support technologies for people with diverse learning needs. He is passionately committed to the use of inclusive and instructional technologies to support the learning of ALL students in school and post school settings. Greg presents at national and international conferences, provides training and consultancy across Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia, is currently a committee member of NSW Australian Association of Special Education, and is the Professional and Consultancy Services Manager at Spectronics.

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