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Terri Mauro

The iPad's Potential as a Special-Needs Tool

By April 9, 2010

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iPadMy son and I were in line at an Apple store last Saturday for one of the first distributed iPads, and so far, it looks like a really viable and much cheaper alternative to a new full-size computer for him. I haven't gotten much of a chance to play with it myself or fully investigate its available apps, but at this point I can attest that the iBooks are beautiful, book-like, and easy for kids to maneuver; the digital keyboard is big and good for both touch-typing and children's hunt-and-pecking fingers; and the battery life is indeed impressive.

My sense is that this is going to be a fantastic tool for kids with special needs, whether as an addition to a parent's bag of tricks or an actual tool for therapy, learning, and communication. A couple of blog posts supporting that: On Fighting Monsters With Rubber Swords, Robert Rummel-Hudson writes of the potential for the iPad to bring a cool factor to communication devices; and on Asthma Mom, Amy Anaruk imagines the way iPads could transform visits to the doctor, and not just by making the waiting room more tolerable.

Have you been playing with an iPad this week? How have you been using it to help or amuse your child with special needs? Share your experience in the comments.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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April 10, 2010 at 8:34 pm
(1) Amy says:

Hi, Terri–thanks for the mention.
The more I see of the iPad – and I don’t have one myself – the more it seems destined for specialized settings. One reader suggested classroom use, given its portability and easy access to videos and tutorials, and that seems like a fantastic idea as well. It’s going to be interesting to see who uses it and how…..

October 29, 2010 at 1:28 pm
(2) allison light says:

My son has pervasive delays (no diagnosis yet) and sensory issues and his occupational therapist uses the ipad with him. He used to not touch anything at all, now that they have been doing diferent things on the ipad, he touches a lot more. I think it is awesome for the special needs kids, but why do they have to be so expensive. The ones that need it can’t even afford it!!

December 18, 2010 at 12:45 pm
(3) Josh D says:

I was wondering if there were any programs; Government or otherwise, that can help families with special needs children that cant afford an ipad. I was told by my daughters speech therapist that there may be a way to get an ipad to help with her developmental and lerning delay. Any info concerning this would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time and have a wonderful holiday.

Joshua Dorsey

December 30, 2010 at 12:51 am
(4) Leah Spring says:

My daughter’s iPad was covered under “assistive technology” by her waiver budget. (We’re in MN, by the way.) Her school is already using them for several of the students. I have also downloaded prolquo2go onto it as well, and absolutely LOVE the program!!! We’ll be adding another iPad to our house soon, I’m sure.

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