iPad apps helping teen with disabilities

April 18, 2012 1:32:07 PM PDT
There's no doubt about it - computer tablets like the iPad are revolutionary devices. They are even changing life for those with learning disabilities, like Giovanni Antinoro.

"G," as he's called, doesn't speak much, but the 18-year-old with autism leaves no doubt as to what he wants. Using a special iPad app to communicate, "G" can tap a picture of a Coca-Cola can, and the iPad says the words out loud.

It's one of the many apps the Bancroft School uses to help kids with developmental disabilities.

"It can help them with independence, it can help our children learn their math or ABCs," said Beth Greer of the Bancroft School.

Some programs teach life skills, such as handling money, while others help with social skills or behavior - and new apps are being created all the time.

There's such a boom that Bancroft is now holding free monthly workshops so families throughout the area can learn how to use the technology.

There have been high-tech devices before for people with special challenges - In fact, "G," has used speaking tools since he was 7.

The iPad is different. It's smaller, easier to use, and more modern.

"This is the first time he has enjoyed what he was doing," said his mother, Kim Antinoro.

From a parent's perspective, the tablet is also less expensive. G's first voice device cost $8,000, while the iPad is a few hundred dollars. The apps are also more affordable.

"I used to have to have to buy a program for $200, now I can buy an app for $4," said his father, also named Giovanni.

Like any teen, "G" also uses his iPad to find music, and watch videos. For his family, however, giving him a voice is the best part.

"We get to hear "mom" and "dad" now, too," Kim said. "So that's nice."

The workshops cover iPad basics, teaching apps, even special ones for children with brain injuries. They are open to anyone, not just parents of Bancroft students.

LINK: Bancroft website

Augmentative and Alternative Communication Apps
April 18, from 12 to 2 pm
April 25, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is one of the fastest-growing segments of assistive technology. Exciting new AAC apps are continually coming on the market. This workshop will help you choose the best AAC app for each person you support, and optimize their use. You will also learn how to overcome challenges in using AAC at home and in the community.

Apps that Support Functional Independence
May 9, from 12 to 2 pm
May 23, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Participants will gain an understanding of iPad apps that address increasing functional independence such as task analysis, environmental signs, video modeling for life skills, text to speech, as well as apps that address behavior and productivity.

Apps that Support Individuals with Brain Injury
June 13, from 12 to 2 pm
June 14, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Participants will gain an understanding of apps that address behavior, time management, directionality, task lists, memory supports, video modeling and relaxation.