The Gift of the iPad

Submitted by Lori Holbrook, mom to Hannah and creator of the ChatBag

Hannah with her iPad

Words can’t always describe what the iPad has done for us! We say all the time it has given Hannah a voice, some independence, and a sense of humor. When it all comes down to it, though, it truly is a gift. We take for granted communication and socializing with others everyday. When you are given a child with special needs, sometimes with multiple disabilities, those “gifts” that we take for granted, walking, talking, writing, etc., are sometimes missed and we appreciate the little milestones of development all the more.

Hannah’s gift came in 2010, at 7 years of age. Hannah was born with Down Syndrome. Later she was diagnosed with Autism and Apraxia. Hannah early on used Sign
Language and PECS as her main communication. These tools were great for Hannah to express her wants and needs in her early years of development. However, we were not aware of how much more Hannah had to say. When Hannah was given the iPad, through her school district, she immediately showed success with it. Using the app, Proloquo 2 Go, Hannah has gone from single photos to multiple screens and folders to communicate with others. Over the last 3 years we are now able to hear Hannah’s voice. The voice that allows her to say where she wants to go, tell people her name, hobbies, pets, ask people questions, order her own food, and even joke around.  Yes, joke around!  Hannah, on occasion, will joke with us by asking to go out to eat at 11:00pm, knowing that it is too late. Once that button is pressed, we immediately hear her giggle because she knows the answer will be “no”.  How cool is that!  A true treasure of watching and hearing your daughter be silly, with her AAC device.  Or maybe that sassy side might appear.  Sometimes we have heard Hannah say “no” when we ask her to tell people her name with her iPad.  Then that contagious giggle follows.  Joking, being sassy, or just requesting, the iPad has changed all of our lives forever.

Besides communication, the iPad has shown us, through using various apps, that Hannah can write letters (iWrite Words app and Paint Sparkles app) when a normal pen and paper were just not motivating or easy to do. Hannah can demonstrate to us that she does understand some colors, numbers, and other educational items that aren’t fun to show with flashcards or workbooks. The use of a picture schedule (Choiceworks app), for when those times of transitioning tend to be challenging, always seems to work when the verbal commands don’t.  It truly amazes me, how any tablet or computer, will motivate an individual to do more work or follow directions.  The possibilities seem endless with this amazing device.

We always hope and pray that Hannah will develop more words that she can communicate herself, with her own voice. Until then, this “gift” of the iPad is not taken for granted, but cherished, because it has given Hannah freedom to be a little girl in a world that functions everyday around communication. It has given Hannah a voice which allows her to CHAT with the world!

Feel free to contact Lori with any questions: Lori Holbrook chatbag@hotmail.com