Technology – Down syndrome and I-Pads – Yay or Nay?

What a great session today at Speech Therapy!!!!  Today is the day that will go down in history as the day Noah got his hands on an I-Pad.  I know they are old hat for most of you guys, but we’ve held off so far on this craze.  But Noah’s speech therapist started the session off today with an app that combines a Kaufmann-like hierarchy of speech, pictures and sign language.  She demonstrated it one time, and Noah was hooked.  He worked his way around the board and was only too happy to attempt the word approximations.  He said “more” over and over again, often without being prompted because he was so motivated by the activity.  It was truly remarkable!!!!

Now, I don’t know if this is something that he is very responsive to only because it’s new or if it’s really something that will help him on a long-term basis.  From what I hear from other parents of children with special needs, the I-Pad is a very powerful communication and learning tool.  Last year when we went to the Down Syndrome Congress National Convention, I attended a workshop given by Libby Kumin, and she talked about that people with Down syndrome show significant aptitude in computer skills.  There is a push to open up entry-level jobs in the computer industry to people with Down syndrome.  Personally, I think that’s great, except that I think Noah as long as Noah doesn’t have to support himself, his giftings and needs will be better served in a more social environment.  But I do think everyone deserves options.  Gosh, maybe if people with Down syndrome proved themselves in more fields, like computer data entry, they might be able to support themselves and live more independently.

Anyway, the other thing I have to think about in considering getting an I-Pad for Noah is the fact that we are very resistent to the idea of our children being “plugged-in.”  (Momma here is plugged in enough for everyone.)  As tempting as it sounds for Noah to learn all his ABCs and 123’s and all that, if it means he is plugged into an I-Pad all day long, or that the only place he can demonstrate his proficiency is on the I-Pad, how valuable is that?

One thing I love about his speech therapist is that she voices the same concerns as I have here.  So I don’t feel any pressure for not going the tech-route.  I love the way she focuses so much on carry over and making sure Noah is transferring knowledge and applying it in real life situations.  A lot of parents I’ve talked to about the I-Pads sing their praises, but it’s always in the context of “Oh, He loves it.  He’d be on it all day long if I let him.  He’s always asking for it, I have to fight to use it myself, he’s learned all his letters from this one AP.”  I want to be sure I don’t train Noah to only have one channel of learning and shut down all the others.

So, what about carry over?  For you guys who have kids who are using I-Pad apps especially for communication and speech and language issues, are you seeing carry over from what they are able to do on the I-Pad into daily use?

What about breakage?  I can just see Noah getting frustrated and swiping the I-Pad off the table.  What if he bangs it with his fist?  Anybody have kids who destroyed their I-Pad?  Obviously he would only be using it with supervision, but I worry about the one time I’m not paying attention.

I need advice on this one.  Do we pursue the I-Pad or not?  It does have a very hefty price tag – $350 is my understanding, so it will be a while before we can make the purchase anyway.

Your Turn:  How are you using technology with your child?  What are your experiences with I-Pads?  What am I not thinking that I should be?  

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