iPad Wins Praise From Autism Community

iPad Wins Praise From Autism Community
by Marissa Stabler, Communications Intern

Shannon Des Roches Rosa is the mother to Leo Rosa, a 10-year-old diagnosed with autism. Rosa said her son’s life was “transformed” after she won an iPad with a 5 dollar raffle ticket last spring.

“I’m not exaggerating,” Rosa wrote in her blog. “Before the iPad, Leo’s autism made him dependent on others for entertainment, play, learning and communication. With the iPad, Leo electrifies the air around him with independence and daily new skills.”

Autism organizations and treatment providers around the country have begun to embrace the iPad in autism therapy. Easter Seals Tri-Counties, an autism treatment provider in south California, announced that they would soon begin using the Apple device for speech and behavioral therapy.

Pam Burns, director of clinical services at Easter Seals Tri-Counties, said the visual nature of the iPad is what makes it an ideal tool for autism treatment.

“It has been proven time and again that people with autism are very visual learners, which makes the iPad a wonderful tool for them,” Burns said. “And the immediate response that they get from touching the screen is very rewarding for them as well.”

According to Fred Volkmar, M.D., director of the Child Study Center at Yale University, there are several reasons students with autism spectrum disorders have had such positive reactions to iPads: the devices are portable, visually oriented, relatively affordable and can be customized. Volkmar said that while some devices designed to help autistic children can range from $4,000 to $5,000, the iPads base retail price is $499.

Speech-language pathologist Danielle Samson, who works with children with autism, believes the iPad cultivates improvements over a range of skill areas. Samson wouldn’t go as far to call it a miracle device; however, she said, “it helps to increase a lot of small factors that really affect children with autism such as attention, motivation, interest and their ability to interact.”

The iPad has an array of Apps specifically designed for those with autism and communicative disorders, including iCommunicate, which allows the user to create pictures, flashcards, storyboards, routines, visual schedules and record custom audio in any language. For a list of 10 Revolutionary iPad Apps to help children with Autism, click here.

“People who know Leo are amazed when they see this new boy rocking that iPad,” Rosa wrote of the Apple product. “I dont usually dabble in miracle-speak, but I may erect a tiny altar to [Apple CEO] Steve Jobs in the corner of our living room.”

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