I am so excited that Ella’s story and my videos of her using the iPad2 for autism therapy, starting at only 23-months-old, are being shared this week at MobiLearnAsia 2012 (a major conference on technology-based learning).
If you haven’t seen it before here, this is the first video that I shot of Ella using her iPad. She was only 23-months-old and this was only the 3rd time she had ever touched an iPad:
One of my goals has been to encourage people to look past what some with autism cannot say aloud, and to look toward their inner intelligence and brilliance.
The use of iPads in autism therapy is becoming increasingly common. But so many still believe that their child must be much older to benefit. Ella has proven that wrong. She took to her iPad like a duck takes to water. In the time that she has been using it, her abilities have dramatically increased. The iPad not only assists her in learning and expressing herself, but it also has given her a sense of accomplishment that is truly priceless.
I think it is awesome that little home movies that I shot at my house are being viewed at this conference by technology experts from around the globe.
If the end result is that one extra child is given the opportunity to experience the benefits that Ella has, then it makes all the work that I have done on the entire blog worthwhile.
I want to encourage everyone to look past the surface of people, and see that people should not be defined by what they can or cannot do, but who they are inside. Don’t assume because an individual can’t do one thing, that they cannot do something else.
In the words of Temple Grandin, “I am different, not less.”
I send a special thank you to Koh Kheng Wah from Hearty SPIN in Singapore, for bringing Ella’s story to a wider audience.
As I mentioned in a previous post, we were trying to find a way to get Ella an iPad2 and we had suggested to any of her loved ones that ordinarily bought her presents for her birthday, to instead consider helping her get an iPad. Because while toys and new clothes are wonderful, Ella needs help with communication. And I thought that her loved ones might want to be a part of that. Well, I thought correctly. Due in part to the generosity of others, we are very grateful to be able to say that our wonderful and clever little girl now has an iPad2.
With autism, early intervention is key and nobody saw any reason to waste valuable learning days waiting until her actual birthday later this month, so she received her iPad2 Wednesday night.
I cannot tell you how amazing it has been. If I had the person that created the iPad in front of me, I would grab them and kiss them!
I plan to post much more detail about the various apps, and how we use them, etc. in the future.
For now, I was just excited to share what she’s done so far.
We shot this video yesterday of her using her iPad2.
Her father & I have never owned any sort of iPad/iPod/iPhone devices and Ella had never seen one before Wednesday. Keep in mind as you watch these that she is only 23 months old, is non-verbal, and has issues with fine motor control. All of these videos were shot within minutes of each other, taken on the 2nd day that she’d owned an iPad and only the third time she had ever touched one.
Most of the apps we have tried are free apps. The first two video clips are her using the only app that we have purchased so far. It is called “First Words: Deluxe” and it cost $4.99 I knew she would love this app because she LOVES letters. One of her favorite activities is playing with her magnet letters on the refrigerator. So I had a feeling she would like this game. I just wasn’t sure if she could move the letters around well. But within just a short period of time she figured it out (I will post more details about how we taught her to do this in one sitting, on a later post).
I have attached all 3 videos below, but if you would like to have the option to see them larger and in much better quality (HD) than I can embed here, you can go directly on the YouTube channel that I created for this blog and choose the option for high definition there: http://www.youtube.com/user/EnduringTheSilence
Clip 2: (You might want to make sure your volume isn’t up too loud for this next one, because she’s making her “Mmmmmmm mmmmm” sound rather loudly at the beginning of this clip.)
The next clip is her using the free app “Toddler Puzzle Shapes”:
I hope you enjoyed the video clips. And I plan to post many more details and updates in the future. For now I just wanted to share our joy of watching her do this for the first few times. It’s been truly amazing.
I expected it to be a tool in our fight. I expected it to be a valuable communication device. I expected it to be educational. I did not consider the massive boost in her self-esteem. She is SO proud of herself when she completes these tasks. She looks at us like, “I did this!” It’s so touching and wonderful.
For a child that used to be able to tell us everything she ever wanted to say until the day of that allergic vaccine reaction, to have that taken away has been very frustrating for her. It has impacted so much of what she tries to do throughout the day. This is something that she can sit down and complete with success. I underestimated the value that aspect alone would have on her mood and her general happiness.
If you have a child on the spectrum, I would highly recommend doing whatever you can to get them an iPad. You can watch all the videos, read all the wonderful reviews from parents of autistic children but nothing compares to seeing your own child accomplish these things right in front of your eyes.
Being that it said “own“, not “have“, right now the question was an easy one for me to answer quickly.
Right now I would love to have an iPad2 to give to my daughter, Ella, who has autism, to help her communicate. People have seen tremendous results working with autistic children with the iPad2. There are many special education apps for the iPad2. And many are geared especially towards helping them communicate. (If you are interested in learning more, you can search it on the internet. There are some great YouTube videos, etc.)
Just recently she cried and whined for approx. 2 hours because she had a splinter in the top of her foot (it had gotten under her sandal strap apparently) and we had no idea what was wrong. I finally figured it out when I saw her flinch when my son touched her foot. We took the splinter out and she was fine. It was heartbreaking to think of her hurting like that, and not being able to tell us what was wrong. There are apps you can get for the iPad2 that have simple touch screens, where they can touch “I want”, “I need” or “I hurt” and it takes them to other screens that helps them communicate what is wrong or what they need. Something like this could mean so much in her life.
I have done a ton of research on this and we are currently trying to get up the money to get her one. Since my neuromuscular disease has worsened, our budget has became very tight. So in the meantime, we’ve been working on her fine motor skills, and I do believe that she could use the iPad2. I’m sure it would take a lot of practice. But she is at the point now where I can get her to point at things in books (for example “Touch the butterfly”, etc.) Which is a big step forward. And she loves things that are electronic. They seem to hold her attention longer than other things. I do believe that she would be interested in the iPad.
Her birthday is later this month and I have asked the few family members that tend to buy our kids gifts on their birthdays, to instead consider chipping in towards helping get her an iPad. It won’t be enough, but every little bit helps and she does notneed a new toy or a new dress, she needs help communicating. So I thought that her family would rather have a hand in helping her improve her communication.
The center where she will be starting speech therapy soon, uses the iPad2 in their speech therapy sessions. So it would also provide her a way to work on more of what she does in therapy, at home. I spoke with one of the therapists who said that they have been very pleased with the success they have had with using the iPad2 with autistic children. She said that she’s gotten new and different types of responses out of kids that she’d never gotten before.
The way I look at it, is that it will be one more tool to help fight to win back the skills that she lost. As she gets older, her lack of ability to communicate is becoming more and more frustrating for her. I’m pretty good at reading her, and anticipating her needs, but I’m not a mind reader. And at times she becomes so frustrated that she hits her head. That is heartbreaking to watch. She is so clever and smart, and I can just see it driving her crazy that she’s trying to talk to me and only getting out “Mmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmmmmmm”. So anything that I can do to possibly help ease that frustration, I want to do.
So that’s my answer. If I could own one thing I don’t currently have, it would be an iPad2 for my daughter, Ella. Hopefully we can make that a reality soon.