Leslie Stahl on APPS for i-Pad that help autistics

Reposted September 14th, 2012: It’s truly magical watching a recent CBS 60-Minutes segment with Leslie Stahl on how the i-Pad and several of its APPS have opened the world of inter-communication between children and adults and those not able to speak, such as individuals with a severe autism disorder, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury or even a stroke.

The entire segment only lasts about 13 minutes in total and is well worth the time it takes to watch it.

I especially found watching Joshua Hood, aged 28 years of age (in the photo to the left), truly inspiring. An autistic, the hand-held computer and the Proloquo2Go APP has changed his world — all thanks to Apple’s Steve Job. In fact, Joshua smiled from ear-to-ear through the entire filming.

So, I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that the i-Pad, along with other types of text to audio technology, has changed the way parents, teachers and other loved ones, look at what individuals who can’t speak actually know.

For example, towards the end of the video, at the Toronto District School Board’s Beverley School, there is a young fellow that just loves opera and seems totally immersed watching the three Tenors. Yet, no one had any idea prior to the i-Pad.

All this brings back memories to a decade ago when I was in private practice, while teaching university. I worked with a woman in her mid-twenties who had severe cerebral palsy. Her head and tongue were constantly jerking so it was very difficult for her to communicate. And, apart from her husband, few were able to understand her verbally.

Yet, I was determined to learn more about her. So, we used her Bliss Board (much as Joshua demonstrated at first in the 60 Minutes segment) which is agonizingly slow. But, she also had a computer program where she could write what she was thinking and then change that text to audio. So, I would sit and ” talk” to her for a hour or two just going over what, why and how she wanted to write — as that was her dream.

In time, I was also able to translate what she was saying by listening to her read what she had written — although it is very difficult for someone to learn to read who can’t say the letters and words. But, this woman was highly motivated.  The last I heard she had a weekly column on special needs in a small town paper somewhere in Ontario.

So, yes, i-Pad APPS will help anyone who is non-verbal, no matter what their special need, but it seems it is especially helpful for those with autism as they seem to be able to attend and focus on the task at hand.

There are many APPS for the i-Pad, depending on the age and needs of each person. The one Joshua was using was called Proloquo2Go, while other options are AutismXpress and Look in My Eyes.

H/T MadMacs of Bytown with thanks.

7 thoughts on “Leslie Stahl on APPS for i-Pad that help autistics

  1. I am wondering how this would work for the deaf, who read lips and can’t reply very well. My g/son is great at the computer with a video cam, we have great talks. However he is unable to converse with his room mates or caregivers other than to say yes to everything. I intend to look into this as an i-pad would be with him all the time and he wouldn’t have to be in the computer room to communicate.


  2. Just got a call from the agency that cares for Jon, asking what goals I wanted to achieve for the next year. I mentioned the i-pad for communication and other applications. Said it would get him out of the computer room as he could use it in his recliner, at the table etc. Seems they have 2 autistic clients in another town and they are using an i-pad with great results. But, they hadn’t heard of the apps you mention so will send them the info. Do you know the size one needs for these apps. He also thought it a great idea, and said with their connections with education ect I might be able to buy one at student price, or they might have to buy it and I pay them for it.


  3. Mary T — Unfortunately I don’t know anything about the APPS but you could call an Apple dealer and ask them, or at least one that sells software. Let me know how things go.

    By the way, you didn’t seem to have any problems leaving a comment while many others are tearing their hair out. Interesting.


  4. Just googled Apple and found this. iPad for all.

    iPad comes with a screen reader, support for playback of closed-captioned content, and other
    innovative universal access features — right out of the box. There’s no additional software to buy or install. These features make iPad easier to use for students who have a vision impairment, are deaf or hard of hearing, or have a physical or learning disability.
    Wonder if this is what I am looking for. No price listed but bet it is expensive.


  5. Sounds great Mary T. If I was still in private practice, I would have several of them! Let me know how much it costs but if you go to Best Buy or a similar Big Box store, it shouldn’t be too bad. My guess is between $200 and $400.00. A bit expensive for sure, but look what it will do!!!


  6. I am going to use the money we no longer need to insure his w/chair van, as his chair wont fit in it anymore-450.00. Just put fire and theft on it, in case we have to use it for some reason. Will be selling it as he uses the handibus in Lethbridge.


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