Posts Tagged ‘autism treatment’

It’s Not About the iPad Tool, It’s About the Technique

Hi. My name is Lisa Luna DeCurtis, and I have been a bilingual speech-language pathologist for almost 20 years focusing on early intervention and family coaching. As I continue to integrate the Apple’s iPad’s apps in my private practice, as well as in my home with my 3-year-old, I will share with you my focus for using it in a meaningful way.Although the iPad is a markedly beneficial tool with impressive potential for educating children, I believe the key to maximizing the benefit of technology as a teaching tool is all about the technique one uses when interacting with children, especially to young children.As I have previously spoken about why the iPad is such an intuitive tool for toddlers, noting how it maps how young children already think, act, and learn, I have now summed up a few points to ponder for both parents and professionals to get the most from your child’s technological experience.The plan            Think about why are you using a tablet computer’s applications, specifically the iPad’s apps, versus reading actual books or building with blocks or coloring on paper? Is it to associate and extend an activity that the child already knows while introducing new technological concepts? Or is it acting as babysitter or form of entertainment? Feel confident about your plan before handing over your iPad to a child.The participants             Who are you using it with? Is it for one individual or a group of children simultaneously? What are their ages? What are their current developmental levels regarding their attention? What are their special needs? If there are apps that are inappropriate for that child’s developmental level, it’s important to have it hidden and inaccessible. The parameters            How long do you plan to let the child spend on the iPad? Are there certain settings when it’s not appropriate to have it? Consider the American Pediatrics Association’s Recommendations that children under the age of 5 should engage in no more than 1-2 hours of combined screen  time daily, including time watching TV, DVDs, and all computer time.The purpose            What is the advertised purpose of the app that the author reported? What other reason would you want to use that app? Is it truly educational teaching of a new skill or building on previously learned material? Or is just for entertainment? Children will learn something when they’re interacting with the apps, so it’s important to know what you want the child to intentionally learn.The positioning            Are you thinking about the benefits of sitting next to the child while the iPad? Or the benefits of being in front of the child so you’re face-to-face? Are there times it is beneficial to hold the iPad up near your face or down by your lap? Do you alternate between table time and couch time and floor time taking advantage of the versatility? Do you want to maintain control of the iPad to lead the interaction or hand it over to the child to allow him to explore it on his own? Although this will change base on your participants and purpose, it’s beneficial to do some research to see which position will yield the best outcome.The proof            As the iPad has just celebrated its one year anniversary and even Apple’s iPhone apps are only a few years old, there is no current research-based evidence on the effects of using the iPad’s apps with children of all ages. Although young children appear to benefit from various apps, and there is an extensive amount of anecdotal evidence throughout the web (mostly by bloggers) about its usefulness, it’s important to proceed with caution and use good judgment rather than assuming this tool is educationally beneficial.The potential             Between the ongoing excitement of the recent release of the iPad 2, the media’s attention on children with special needs benefiting from the iPad, and the explosion of world-wide developers and programmers infiltrating Apple’s iTunes store on a daily basis, there is no doubt the iPad has an excellent foundation as “game changer”, especially in the field of education.However, both parents and professionals, particularly therapists like me who are utilizing this technology regularly, will benefit from focusing on developmentally appropriate activities and tried-and-true techniques. Also, it is important to seek out sound advice from educators rather than getting caught up in the frenetic pace of this new app-obsessed culture and forgetting what research has shown about how children learn.Going back to the beginning, I encourage you to consider your “plan” before handing over any of your iDevices to children and be honest about its role in providing an interactive teaching opportunity or its role as a babysitter or entertainer. Especially because this is only the beginning.

iPad Apps for Building Young Children’s Narrative Skills

Narrative skills, or the ability to tell a story, are a key skill set for communicating effectively. They begin for young toddlers by simply naming individual events, such as “I fell down” and then become heaps of information “The boy fell down. He hurt his knee. He cried. The teacher put a band-aid on it”. As narrative skills progress in preschool and kindergarten, the child includes more detail about the characters, more cause and effect sequences, the problems that occurred and how they were resolved. This could sound something like, “A boy in my class was riding too fast and he didn’t see the big rock. So he rode right into it and then fell off his bike. He scraped his knee so it started bleeding. He cried until his teacher came outside and helped him by putting a band-aid on it. I think he’ll ride slower next time.”

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