Is Android The Tablet For Autism?

Is Android The Tablet For Autism?

Photo Courtesy of Watcharakun

Began as a Google+ question, became so long, I felt I better post it on my blog:

I was pondering a post to my blog with the above title.  This question feels like a betrayal, since I am a long time Apple fan, and loyal supporter of Mr. Jobs.

Nevertheless, it is a question I have been pondering, and one worthy of being asked.  Why should everyone purchase an Apple IPad, when their entry price is 500 dollars?

Shouldn’t we be looking at the system that provides the consumer with the sub $250 priced Barnes and Noble Nook Color?   It has received incredible reviews, and is more portable at 7 inches than the IPad.   How about the Archos Android tablets, which can be found for $199, and even less in some places?

My argument is on price.  Affordability.  What would it take to put one of these tablets in the hands of a family working to overcome autism?

Rather than have all these great stories written about the benefits of an IPad priced beyond the reach of most who read them, shouldn’t we begin a conversation about how to spread the benefit?

Phil McKinney, the CTO of HP, recently made the point that IPads had sold to the tune of 14 million units (updated number 28 million), but that pc’s in the same time sold 500 million units.   This means that the large majority of people haven’t decided to spend 500 dollars or more on a tablet.

No doubt this is an issue of them not seeing the value, but it is also a question of price.

What price could lure even 100 million consumers into the market, who would never consider spending $500 on an IPad?

Could Android lure those resistant or hesitant consumers into the market with a cheaper competitor?

I think so.   I think parents and family members of special needs children and adults need Google and their partners to get this done (maybe HP and Hacking Autism will help).

We need a sub $150 Android tablet, for special needs families, who desperately desire the opportunity to unlock their child’s potential with this tool.  People who could care less about aesthetics, and need a functional device with the right software to help their children learn and communicate…to help their children be included.

Personally, I think it ought to be about 7 inches, so it is portable enough to travel anywhere easily, but with a screen large enough to provide a tablet experience (a paperback size tablet).

If a tablet really can make a difference in the life of an adult or child with special needs, should the autism community begin to look for a company that prices their machine at an affordable price?  A company that doesn’t just notice the impact on autism, but gets involved in producing a machine accesible to the entire community.

Maybe I’m dreaming, but I think Google might be up to the challenge.  In any case, I want to remember families like my own, faced with the daunting challenge of autism, and in need of hope.  Families watching the IPad sensation in the autism community, but unable to participate.

Who knows, maybe Apple will read this and do something?

Note:  More Watcharakun photos found at…

About Russ Ewell

Since 1994 I have been devoted to the research and application of innovative technology solutions to education. My passion for these pursuits has been driven by my experience as a parent of children with special needs. During the economic technological growth explosion of the 1990's I was lived and worked in Silicon Valley, and was fortunate enough to find a group of people with similar interests and passions. As a result I was able to launch a non-profit called Hope Technology Group whose mission became advancing the use of technology in education. We eventually launched Hope Technology School, which has used technology to build a fascinating and effective educational program that practices full inclusion. Around the same time, I was fortunate enough to develop and build an awarding winning program called E-Soccer with the help of great friends and excellent coaches. These endeavors have left me with a continuing hunger to learn more about the possibilites of education, technology, and inclusion.


    1. Russ Ewell

      Android is very flexible. The Quick Talk application we developed has great flexibility. We are on our way to adding pictures and sound, which a person will be able to purchase within the app. There is a video of the app under the link Purchase Quick Talk, where you can see what I a referring to. Let me know what you are looking for in an app for your child, and I will write a post providing as much information as I have to help you. Thanks for your questions. Welcome more or input.

  1. Andrew

    This is something that is needed for families living with a special needs family member. With money flying out of the door in every direction for therapy, special schools, medications, and a myriad of other needs, a sub $200.00 tablet would be a God send. This along with the right apps could impact the person with Autism, and other developmental delays tremendously.

  2. L'AsiaOut10Count

    I have been currently shopping for a tablet to help my youngest son who has autism. He is currently nonverbal and uses a pecs system. Those tend to get lost and dirty and the binder is cumbersome to travel with. I myself Love apple products but they are costly. As someone before me had mentioned that the budget just isn’t there to drop $500 or more on an ipad. Theres also the possibility of it getting damaged by my child and I wouldn’t be able to replace it for another $500. I have seen some reasonable androids but I’m curious about what type of Apps that they offer in regards to communication for autism. I don’t want to purchase somthing I can’t get Apps for. Maybe you can steer me in the right direction. Thanks

    1. Russ Ewell


      We received a spam attack and have just finished digging ourselves out of it. Apologies for not responding more quickly. I would have recommended the Nook before Barnes and Noble decided to stop production. They had and still have a great price in some places. The key question is whether you are familiar with Android or Apple? The second question is what price you want to pay? The third question is how easy do you want life to be from purchase to setup? If you can give me some answers on this I can guide you to almost the exact choice. I understand if this is too late, but want to thank your for asking, and hope next time we can be timely in our response.


      1. amy

        I am definitely interested in getting a tablet for my 9 year old who is high functioning autistic…I can not afford the IPAD and want something that is sturdy (that can be fitted with a sturdy case) and can download android/google apps. Can get a list of apps that her speech teacher would recommend. Would love any feedback you have.

  3. Jane

    Found this great article just surfing…am in desperate need of a suggestion for a good android tablet for my 5 year old granddaughter. She has “Joubers Syndrome” which encompasses sensory issues, low/no muscle tone. Also has autistic traits, too. She was given a used ipad2 but it didn’t last more than 6 weeks…broke! Cannot afford an ipad but am looking for a good android Wi-Fi tablet that I can find and obtain good apps for the special needs child in mind. any suggestions? It will be a most appreciated Christmas gift for her.

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