Parents of autistic toddlers are now getting help from an unexpected place: The iPad and a growing range of apps for autistic kids. These apps can help children express themselves, learn to talk, help you measure their stress level. It's like an amazing shortcut to communicating with your child.
And while an iPad seems expensive, it's far less expensive and smaller than other equipment that does the same things for autistic kids. You can customize some of the apps, uploading photos of the exact things your child wants so they can just point -- without having to negotiate any other distracting images or ideas.
The app revolution is a boon to parents, but experts warn it's not THE answer to everything.
"For a child, it shouldn't be just given to them as a babysitting tool. When the app is introduced to the child, first train them how to use (it)," cautions Khengwah Koh, a managing partner with autism app producer Hearty SPIN. "It's not a game. It's something to be introduced in a systematic way."
I don't think most parents of autistic children would consider an iPad a babysitter. But I can see how I might be tempted to DIY-it with the apps. You know, just browse to see what's out there, pick out the ones that seem most useful, and just start using them. A lot of parents feel like they know their kids and their needs best, so why not?
But I think it's smart to take a very systematic approach with those apps and use them as a supplement to your child's therapy -- definitely not as a replacement! I think it's still safe to say, even with breathtaking advances like the iPad, that there's no replacement for the judgment and wisdom of another human being.
Have you tried out any iPad apps for autistic children?
Image via Scott & Elaine van der Chijs/Flickr