The story at NPR reads like an Apple ad, but it’s completely genuine:
Just what is it about a tablet, or the iPad in particular, that works so well with some students with disabilities and children on the autism spectrum? Educators believe there’s something about the combination of the big, bright, clear visual cues of some of the music apps, and the touchscreen that’s easy to use without creating a sensory or visual overload. Beyond that, many teachers and parents aren’t really sure. It’s still a bit of a mystery. “We have some really, really low-functioning students who I could never really involve in the music activities,” Goldberg says. “But the iPad has pretty much taken care of that. I can’t say I have 100 percent involvement. But it’s pretty close.” And educators say there’s another way the tablets are proving to be game changers for special ed. They’ve begun to make obsolete those large and costly learning devices, allowing a student with disabilities to look like every other student. “It has changed the way people look at people with disabilities,” says Karen Gorman, the director of Assistive Technology for New York City’s Public schools. For years, she said, many kids with severe autism, cerebral palsy or other serious challenges needed these large, clunky and expensive assistive-speaking devices. Some looked like small accordions, worn around students’ necks. Gorman says they looked a little odd, and screamed “disabled kid.” Now the iPad and other tablets, she says, have helped level the playing field socially. “Parents thought for the first time my child with disabilities is using something that looks very cool, and modern and current. And other kids will come over to them now and interact with them.” Once, Gorman says, other students tended to see only the disability: “Kid in a wheelchair, kid in a wheelchair,” she explains. “Kid in a wheelchair with an iPad? How interesting.”
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