From before you could buy an iPad, I knew I wanted one for Pudding. When Cubby was born, his father bought me an iPod Touch. When I was nursing the newborn, Pudding latched on to the iPod. I was amazed how well she could use it, how naturally the touch screen and visual layout came to her. I downloaded some apps for her, and uploaded some cartoons. It came so naturally to her, she learned so easily in this format. I didn’t know at the time that she was a visual learner, like many other children on the spectrum. Of course, I didn’t even know there was a spectrum back then.
I didn’t notice then that her fingers didn’t work quite as well as they should. I remember during her initial OT evaluation remarking that there was no way she could have significant fine motor delays, as she was so very capable with my iPod. I was wrong, and following the diagnosis, I observed how her little fingers would struggle and wished they made a bigger iPod that would be just the right size for her.
Months later, that was exactly what Apple did with the iPad. By that time, however, the device was way out of our budget. I told myself we’d save up for one for her for Christmas, but finances just became more and more difficult. We couldn’t afford the therapy our doctor recommended, then we had to let go of her occupational therapist, and speech therapist. We’d purposely remained in the US to provide the best treatment options for our girl, we’d never imagined how difficult that would be.
I started to read about how the autism community had discovered the same thing with this technology as I’d observed with Pudding. The iPad tapped right into our kid’s strengths. Developers created and marketed apps directly to those with communication challenges. The iPod, and later the iPad, became a more affordable communication device. Families discovered how it helped their loved one to remain organized, with visual schedules and social stories at the touch of a button. Pudding’s teacher introduced them to the classroom, and is undergoing training to help Pudding and her classmates use them to their full potential. Apple had created a revolution. I told myself one day, perhaps after returning to work, we’d become part of that revolution too.
I didn’t have to wait. Pudding is the very fortunate recipient of an iPad. A gift of kindness so touching I can hardly find the words to express my gratitude. We aren’t waiting for Christmas, she is using it right now. Though she can use it to access entertainment, it isn’t a toy. She uses it, she doesn’t play with it. It is fostering her independence as she makes her own leisure choices. It is teaching her how to write the letters of the alphabet, and the basics of reading. It is a tool that works with the way her brain works, rather than struggling against her differences. I’m busy learning about other apps to organize her day, and encourage appropriate behaviors in unfamiliar situations. If anybody reading this can recommend apps, please do so in the comments. We’ve got a lot to learn, but I’m already amazed.
And I believe. I believe in kindness and goodwill. I believe that this world is becoming more accommodating to those with differences like my girl. I believe in my girl. I believe in her future, with all the tools she needs to succeed in life.
I believe in Santa.
If you have anything left over to give, please consider making a donation to the Autism Society of America, so that other families might benefit from this amazing technology.
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