Each year, thousands of children are diagnosed with autism and about 30 percent of those children can’t use speech to communicate their thoughts and feelings. Thankfully in the past year, more and more schools are finding that the iPad can be a key to unlocking a child’s inability to speak.
On Sunday, the Autism Cares Foundation launched the nation’s first innovative iPad program, which builds on each child’s interests by toggling between teaching opportunities and motivating interests. The program could serve as a template to other education programs around the world. The simplicity of swiping, flicking and pinching is said to be easy for autistic children and potentially unlock them from the isolation of not being able to communicate.
The iPad program from the Autism Cares Foundation is an alternative way to communicate using various applications. The goal of the program is to help children communicate, gain independence and improve daily life skills.
Last October, 60 Minutes ran a report called “Apps for Autism,” telling the story of 27-year-old Joshua Hood who hasn’t been able to speak due to autism. Before using the iPad, Joshua was limited to hand and body gestures for communication. He became frequently frustrated with his inability to speak.
Using the app, Proloquo2Go ($189.99 in the U.S. App Store), he can now express emotions, answer basic questions — and even order food at his favorite diner.
“For the past year, Josh has been using an Apple iPad as his voice and he is — well, he’s reborn,” 60 Minutes reported.
One reviewer of Proloquo2Go said, “We bought this for my autistic son, and his communication went from 0 to 10.”
Teachers interviewed in the report said the iPad provides something that is constant for autistic children. “The voice is constant, the pacing is constant. It waits. I might not wait as long,” said Stacie Carroll.
The press release from the Autism Cares Foundation didn’t mention specifics of which package of applications would be used, or how a family with an autistic child could participate. It did say the program, as well as all activities and programs offered by the foundation, is free to participating families.