Ashley Harrell in iHelp for Autism:
Since the iPad’s unveiling in April, autism experts and parents have brought it into countless homes and classrooms around the world. Developers have begun pumping out applications specifically designed for users with special needs, and initial studies are already measuring the effectiveness of the iPod Touch and the iPad as learning tools for children with autism. Through the devices, some of these children have been able to communicate their thoughts to adults for the first time. Others have learned life skills that had eluded them for years.
Mike Pereira, director of clinical services at California Autism Foundation:
I don’t think there’s anything revolutionary about any new technology. The revolution is being conducted in the classrooms and in determining causality. … That’s where the money and the effort should be.
Children with autism usually have a narrow range of interests, so they need additional motivation to learn. Research and anecdotes concerning the iPad and iPod suggest that the devices grab the children’s attention.
While reading this article there are a few improvements that could be made to the iPod touch and the iPad to greatly enhance the experience especially for children. Here’s the list of opportunities:
- Improve durability: Ruggedize the display and the chassis.
- Reduce weight: At 1.5 pounds the iPad isn’t heavy but it certainly can be lighter.
- Improve Battery Life: By using a more conventional non-tapered design on the back (like the iPhone 4) I think a larger battery can be fitted into both the iPad and the iPod touch.
And here’s the list of iPad apps that were mentioned that I thought were worth exploring to help kids learn and have fun at the same time: Stories2Learn, Proloquo2Go, First Then Visual Schedule, iEarnedThat.