The IPad, Apps, and How To Get Started

People often ask me for a list of IPad Apps for kids.   On many occasions they are asking on behalf of kids with autism or another intellectual disability.   I could make a list, but this one is so good I want to pass it on.

Leo’s IPad Apps – check out the list and the Squidalicious web site.  Especially impressive is this app spreadsheet.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when introducing a new device or software:

  1. Be Thoughtful:  One of the best parenting books I ever read taught me to study my children.  The writer happened to be a mom, and she pointed out how women watch and observe their children.  She made a compelling case that men – well, not so much.   I began watching my kids more, and was amazed by what I learned.  Before any technology is introduced to children (or adults for that matter) with special needs we need to study them.   What we learn will help us to determine which devices and apps will work.   I have seen some kids prefer the ITouch to the IPad, despite all the hoopla surrounding tablets.  I have seen some kids prefer the HP TouchSmart to both of them.  We can’t get caught up in what everyone says should work, we need to study our kids to figure out what will work for them.
  2. Be Prepared: Before you introduce any app to your child make sure you take the time to learn how to use it yourself.  Kids don’t like waiting long periods while their parents fumble about trying to make things work.   If the software intimidates, simply reach out to young people in your life.  They can become friends with your children, and serve as your assistant in understanding and navigating these apps.
  3. Be Patient: My wife Gail has taught me to introduce technology to my children with patience.  As parents of special needs children we can grow discouraged, when our children don’t immediately take to new technology (especially after a sizable financial investment).  One key to avoiding this discouragement is the patient introduction of the device and its’ accompanying software.  Set simple goals like – I just want him to touch the screen.  After that – I just want him to listen to the song.  After that – just let him or her play with it by themselves – even if they hand it right back to you.  Don’t worry, over time they will embrace it especially when they find the app they enjoy – and surprise – it might not be the one you would have expected (trust me I know from personal experience).
  4. Be Creative: Just because an app is supposed to be used for one purpose, doesn’t mean you can’t use it for another.   At Hope Technology School , where our team volunteers, we work with the therapist and teachers to find whatever furthers their purposes.  For instance, there are a number of games created for entertainment that improve fine motor skills.  Rethink the value of an app based on how you want to use it, not how you are being told to use it.

I hope to write more on this at a later time, but for now jump in with Leo’s apps, and I hope my tips can make your journey a little easier.