For several weeks I've had a post mulling around in my brain about touch-screen devices and how they have opened up a new world for my son. I've been tired and sluggish due to the weather and the post has gone unwritten, but now that Marissa's Bunny is giving away iPads (based on need) and those who complete the (rather lengthy) survey in my ad rotation this cycle also have a chance of winning an iPad, I thought it was about time to get writing.
I don't know why I didn't jump for joy when I first saw the iPod touch being introduced. And then the iPad. I mean, DUH?!! It's PERFECT.
Think about it. Have you ever attempted to teach a child, typically developing or not, how to use a computer mouse? If you do, I suggest spiking your Kool-Aid first. It's awful. You might as well be teaching your cat. Not to say some kids don't naturally "get it," because they do. Somehow they understand the relationship between the tiny arrow on the screen, the mouse, and their hand. They understand to some extent that the arrow has to stay inside a certain area on the screen and that the mouse has two buttons. They are able to press and drag, not bang and shake.
But a touch screen? You see what you want and you TOUCH IT. Just like real life. It's tactile, it's intuitive, and it takes away that awful middle rodent. Brilliant.
I walked in to pick up Punkin from school a few weeks ago and he was playing an online computer game at the Smart Board. It's basically a giant touch screen that from what I understand is connected to the school's server. He was dragging, with his hand, a capital B over to another capital B. Then a lower-case B floated out and he dragged it over to the appropriate corner. "B, Mom. Buh. B."
I think I drooled when my mouth hit the floor.
The next week his teacher showed me her personal iPad that she brings to school. She's downloaded a number of applications for him to use including a dinosaur that he talks to and feeds, a letter tracing game, and a balloon popping game that they use to work on one-to-one correspondence counting.
Of course my first thought was that he needed one of these written into his IEP, but then I remembered an email about name brands or something and his teacher brought it up before I could ask. "They said they won't approve these for anyone." I don't know how they can get away with that, and there very well may be other products out there that they will approve, but in the meantime he's lucky to have the smart board and a generous teacher.
It's just so awesome to me that he's able to participate in something that would otherwise have a serious barrier in the way. He wants to use a mouse, but he can't and it's frustrating. Touch screens are easy and fun. He's playing while he's learning and it doesn't make a mess at all!
I can only imagine what the implications would be when he's older -- sequencing pictures to follow directions to get dressed, make cereal, all of the morning routines. It's a step towards independence, that word we all search after so diligently.