Apple’s iPad gives voice to kids with autism

“Sharia stood immobile in front of the television, transfixed by its images, unaware of the world around her. Her family called her name over and over again, but she did not respond,” Supraja Seshadri reports for CNN. “It was that moment when they knew something was wrong.”

“Initially, they thought it was a hearing problem. When they found nothing wrong, they decided to take 2-year-old Sharia to a specialist at an early detection center in 2009,” Seshadri reports. “‘Within five minutes of looking at Sharia, (the specialist) said that she has autism,’ said Sharia’s father, Fawad Siddiqui. ‘A very clear case of it.'”

Seshadri reports, “Speech, occupational and behavior therapies helped some. But Sharia still struggled with communication. Then, in 2010, Apple’s iPad was released… ‘What the iPad has done has given her a sense of control that she never had before,’ Siddiqui said. ‘She knows when you touch it, something is supposed to happen. She knows she doesn’t need to cry, she needs to point.'”

“‘I think (the iPad) is revolutionizing the augmentative communication field,’ said Dr. Oliver Wendt, assistant professor of speech, language and hearing sciences at Purdue University. ‘It’s a very cost-effective system. Before, we had these expensive, bulky items, which now can be replaced with an iPad.’ The equipment that was used previously could cost $9,000 to $15,000,” Seshadri reports. “iPads are now available for as little as $399. A majority of the apps on the iPad are paid apps that cost 99 cents to $299.99. Some of these prices may seem rather expensive for regular iPad users, but autism communities are thrilled.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. The iPad is truly a game changer for many individuals I know for whom the device offers the best way augment communication while emerging speech skills develop. The iPad apps are largely customizable and much more affordable than the older technology.

    It is unfortunate that there is a growing need for these types of solutions, with the increasing frequency of autism spectrum disorder-related challenges. Whatever the actual likelihood of a smaller 7(ish) inch “iPad mini”, developmentally challenged students can benefit from being able to more easily carry around a smaller device. Thank you, iPad designers and all those developers for apps that help.

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