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Autism Breakthrough (Please Help)

by on Jul.19, 2010, under News

A few days ago, a colleague forwarded me a story about children with autism using the new iPad to communicate. For those of you not familiar with the DynaVox picture-to-speech device, it’s insanely expensive, and most people can’t get one because their insurance doesn’t cover it. Lo and behold, I found that a lot of parents with autistic children are interested in the iPad. Please see the articles here, here and here. You’ll notice a lot of references to the Picture Exchange Communication System– that’s the therapy that has been recommended to us for home use. I’ve linked the Wikipedia article for your perusal.

My son is 3 now, and he has a lot of work ahead of him. His communication impairments are severe, and it takes constant vigilance on our part to help him learn to speak. As of this moment, he mostly echoes what is said to him in the hopes that we will give him whatever he wants. If we are lax in our teaching methods at all, it starts a cycle of immediate regression. You can imagine how it feels to see him just locked in his own world, unable to respond to most external stimuli, and how I would do anything to help him adapt to our world.

A lot of you have asked how my son is doing ever since my post shortly before episode 27. I just want you all to know he’s improving, and we’re starting to get a handle on the scope of his disability. There isn’t a lot of hard data on autism, even though it’s one of the fastest-growing diagnoses in the world. That means that there are a lot of quacks out there who are more than willing to make a buck at the expense of your child’s health. Originally, I just dismissed this iPad thing as a fad.

Then I gave my kid a DS to play with.

It was incredible. He held the pen like a pro! You can see the gears turning, and I hope the possibilities are present in your mind. To you, he may just look like a normal three-year-old… but I guess that’s the point, isn’t it? Just like a normal boy. I wanted to cry.

There aren’t a lot of accessibility apps for the DS, as you can imagine. With its giant hinge, it’s not exactly made for toddlers. To make matters worse, his therapy, the only therapy that has worked so far… comes out to $24k per year, with no insurance coverage.

I never meant to ask you all for help. I wanted to make a product I could sell you instead. But here I am, asking if you will ChipIn to help us get an iPad for my beautiful son. I promise to post videos of his brilliance.

2 Comments for this entry

  • Liadona

    Our son is dyspraxic which is a fine motor issue rather than the myriad of issues like Autism. In his case, he is fighting oral dyspraxia. At almost 4 years old he is finally starting to say more than one intelligible word at a time and believe me even that one word took a long time. In fact, he didn’t even say “Mama” until January of this year.

    Here is what I have to say about the “i” family of products from Mac – get them. Get any one you can. iPad, iPhone, iPod touch. Any of the ones that use apps. Significant changes – amazing differences. My son told us he wanted a marble run for his birthday last year by finding videos of marble runs on youtube. We’re not sure how, but he did without our assistance. (You can, btw, lock youtube with the new OS, but you may not want to.)

    When you have it, please send me an email. I will let you know of apps that have helped us – most of them are low cost or free – and answer any questions you may have. Warning – you will not really be able to pry it from his hands so if you want one as well either consign yourselves to using it after bedtime or getting a second one. I would also recommend you not get the 3G iPad unless you need it for the car and do not have an iPhone.

    Best of luck with the fundraising. Please let me know if you have questions.

  • WackyLisa

    Once you get the iPad (fingers crossed for you) Ricky over at ATMac lists some good apps that you might also find useful.

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