by HUMZA ALVI Staff Writer
Autism, a disorder that is characterized by impaired communication and social interaction, can be combatted through the miracles of the Apple iPad, a tablet PC with a variety of functions in all walks of life. The iPad, first released in 2010, has changed our perception about the “disease”. The iPad is a helpful and very positive way to help children who suffer from autism communicate, but, as with any technological hardware, proper direction is required by the parent of the autistic child. There are apps that are designed for autistic children to follow with relative ease, but more importantly, the iPad abets foremost in expanding the ways in which an autistic child can communicate. Many of them seem to have trouble communicating basic needs, oftentimes pointing, screaming, and crying to get their message across. Since the iPad has a touch screen that requires only a tap, it becomes far less complex of a device for an autistic child. “This is just like how we communicate, except they depend on the iPad fully. It truly is amazing what technology can do for all of us. We probably wouldn’t have thought that such an achievement would even be a possibility,” said junior Marvin Ramirez. The interior design of the iPad has a sense of convenience that allows children easy access instantly after being turned on, compared to a cluttered desktop. Also, customizable visuals, such as the background, apps, and applications, helps children in learning to expand their creative horizons and express themselves succinctly and uniquely. “The idea of visual stimulation builds upon a whole body of work on autism that didn’t originally use the iPad, but looked at other not so high-tech devices that do similar things, autistic children have an interest in visual images that frequently starts with an interest in things like signs or hood ornaments on cars, but often extends into letters and numbers. While other children may enjoy building with blocks, autistic children are often fascinated with letters and pictures on the sides of the blocks,” said Dr. Fred Volkmar of the Yale Child Study Center. However, there are negatives and dangers to it like anything else. It is important to make sure the child does not use it as a distraction instead of using it to communicate. The thing is that the iPad does not have is the ability to allow a teacher or guardian to participate over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth in the same app. This would help because the teacher or parent could guide the child and create a concrete concept in his or her mind. Without assistance, children may go astray and not really have a single focus. Using the Apple iPad to help change the lives of people with autism is a great thing and proves to those who often say that technology is ruining our society that it has its positives and can really change life for everyone.