iTaalk Autism Foundation is a 501c3 Non Profit, providing interactive technology education and solutions to individuals with autism and related special needs, their parents and the professionals that serve them.
Have you ever seen an app on sale or even FREE, and thought "it looks great, but not for my kid" or "I don't even know how to use it"?  This Practical APPlication blog will feature free or discounted apps and provide practical tips on using them in ways you may not have even considered! 

Brooke Olson, President of iTaalk Autism Foundation with Aidan (July 2011, iPad Recipient)
Tips for choosing the right device for your child...

How do I choose the right device for my child? 
There are several things that we at iTaalk believe go into deciding which product is right for your child.  But, the most important piece to this decision is that you consider all who work with your child. Involving a full team (SPED Teacher, Parents, Aide, ST, OT, Psychologist, etc) in your decision-making process is ALWAYS the BEST way!

Here are some important things to consider:

Fine Motor Skills - This has to be the most important factor to consider.  While the iPad is beautiful and shiny and really grabs our kids' attention (which is sometimes required for our very early learners), the iPod Touch and iPhone are so portable. They can be carried in a pocket, small handbag, etc, and when it does become an augmentative device, this can be a HUGE benefit.  I always look for ways to save families money, and $300+ is a lot of extra money to spend when your child may be motivated by the less expensive device just as much.  If you have a friend or family member with either device, ask if you can come over and have a demo session with your child or contact your local Apple Store or Best Buy and ask for a special viewing opportunity for your child.  Test both devices, but ALWAYS try the iPod first.  If your child takes to the smaller device, don't bother with the iPad.  You have your answer...they can use and LIKE the less expensive version, more portable version.


Age of Child - As a child gets older we hope to instill independence...for those children who are approximately 12 or older and have already demonstrated some ability to have independence, an iPhone can have tremendous benefits.  In a recent workshop, I witnessed a non-verbal, illiterate, 16 year old young man text back and forth with his father, and proceed to introduce himself to the room of 100 people using proloquo2go.  His father went on to explain that they use the triple-click text-to-speak mode on the iPhone to allow him to "read" texts.  Now, he can play video games in the arcade at Wal-mart while his parents grocery shop, and when it is time to go, dad texts his son a quick "We are leaving in 5 minutes, xoDad".  This is a beautiful use of 3G technology with a non-verbal but cognitively advanced young man.  Not only does he have a means of communications, but it is a socially acceptable and VERY COOL device to carry around. The same technology could be applied to a iPad w/3G if a child/young adult had/has poor fine motor control.


School Needs - We suggest that you speak with your child's teacher and/or therapists before making a decision.  Some schools/clinics are using Droid based technology, while others use Apple.  If your child's teacher is trained on Droids and their software applications, then it would be to your child's best interest to work with the device their teacher knows and understands.  This works both ways!  Also, if your child's school is using an AAC application that is only available for an iPad, and there is significant reasons as to the effectiveness of this application, then an iPad might be of warrant.  I suggest you speak with your child's primary therapist/teacher to discuss the product that together you can implement in the most effective manner for your child.


 

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