The iPad Phenomenon

Michelle Klindtworth, M.S., CCC-SLP, Speech and Language Pathologist

Using Assistive Technologies to Foster Effective Communication Skills

A mere twenty-one months ago an event occurred that was about to catapult the field of Augmentative / Alternative Communication (AAC) into the future: The release of the iPad1. Not long after this occasion, iPads began evolving from high-tech recreational toys to bona fide learning and communication tools. Since its release date in April of 2010, a compilation of research has emerged which substantiates the utility of iPads for educational, therapeutic, and communicative functions. This is particularly true for students with special needs. The following links provide more information as well as evidenced-based research denoting the gains children with special needs have experienced while using the iPad:

 

Research on teaching with iPad
http://researchguides.dartmouth.edu/teachingwithipads
http://newsinfo.nd.edu/news/18178-study-results-students-benefit-from-ipads-in-the-classroom

Research on iPads and autism
http://www.iautism.info/en/2011/04/09/links-to-academic-papers

Research on iPads and disability
http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2011/05/20/study-backs-ipad/13142

Finding App resource for specific functional limitations
http://www.inov8-ed.com/2011/02/theres-a-special-app-for-that-part-5-5-mind-mapping-apps-for-students-with-learning-disabilities

Research is beginning to substantiate what has already been widely known by parents and educators: Children gravitate toward electronics becoming engaged, and even motivated, in some of the most arduous of tasks. With all its accolades and its explosion in popularity, we are understandably seduced by the iPad trend. However, it is a mistake to regard the iPad and its multitude of apps as a cure-all solution to the communicative and educational challenges faced by children with special needs.

 Cautionary Considerations for Communication

AAC systems existed long before the iPad came into being. It is true that some of the older, high-tech devices were awkwardly shaped, too heavy, and not particularly functional for every day communicative interactions. Fortunately, this is no longer the case; the DynaVox now looks like a streamlined laptop and there are text-to-speech devices small enough to fit in a pocket. Low tech options such as visual schedules, choice boards, or picture exchange systems (PECS) are have long since proven their efficacy in the therapy and educational settings. Lower – tech AAC devices are user friendly and easy to adapt to individual student needs. While it is an excellent learning tool, it is not always the answer for every communicator. It is vital to match an AAC device with the child’s communication abilities. The following websites are helpful in evaluating and selecting appropriate applications.

http://www.snapps4kids.com/
http://www.iautism.info/en/
http://a4cwsn.com/
http://www.squidalicious.com/2011/01/ipad-apps-for-autism-spreadsheet-of.html
http://slpsharing.com/
http://appsineducation.blogspot.com/
http://www.appannie.com/top/iphone/united-states/education/
http://techinspecialed.com/category/appfriday-by-momswithapps/
http://www.aactechconnect.com/ – coming soon aac apps evaluation
http://langwitches.org/blog/2011/08/21/blooms-taxonomy-and-ipad-apps/ – Using Blooms Revised Taxonomy for Evaluating

Apps
http://teachwithyouripad.wikispaces.com/Blooms+Taxonomy+with+Apps
http://ilearntechnology.com/?p=4025
http://otswithapps.wordpress.com/
http://www.inov8-ed.com/category/special-app-for-that/

Apps For The Blind And Visually Impaired: iPad/iPhone Apps AppList http://appadvice.com/applist_ipad_client_view/apps-for-the-visually-impaired

Hearing Apps http://journals.lww.com/thehearingjournal/Fulltext/2011/11000/There_s_a_hearing_app_for_that.3.aspx

The URL’s above as well as additional information about useful iPad accessories can be found at:

http://www.iod.unh.edu/PriorityAreas/assistivetechnology/resources/iPadApplicationsAccessoriesandModifications.aspx 

Please seek the assistance of a qualified Speech Language Pathologist for assistance in choosing the most appropriate communication device and/or application for your child.

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