Wired: iPads Are Not a Miracle for Children With Autism

30 Mar

Wired has a piece up that purports to go against the hype on the iPad: iPads Are Not a Miracle for Children With Autism. It’s a provocative statement (even he says so). I wanted to say that it is a big strawman. For the most part the hype isn’t so big as to place the iPad into “miracle” status. But, then again, consider these pieces:

A Cure for Autism? Apple’s iPad has an App for That

Another piece had a title that stuck in my mind: Could the iPad be a Cure for Autism? When I searched for it, I found that the title had changed to
Could The iPad Be Used To Help Autistics?

Wired makes good points:

While there are some apps that are more specific to use with children with autism (like AAC apps), all apps can provide developmental experience depending on how they are used and the child’s own developmental trajectory and interests. You can’t have a “Top 10 Autism Apps.”

But to bring this back to the start, is the iPad a “miracle” for autistics (children or adults)? Depends on your definition of miracle, I guess. Is it a cure? No. The iPad and the iPod touch are excellent pieces of technology and have a lot to offer some people with disabilities. I think that I will paraphrase Shannon Rosa: the iPad is a force for good. It isn’t magic. It isn’t a cure. It is for many a step towards greater independence. Is a step towards greater independence a “miracle”? I think so. I take my miracles big or small.


8 Responses to “Wired: iPads Are Not a Miracle for Children With Autism”

  1. farmwifetwo March 30, 2011 at 15:13 #

    An iPad is a tool. A tool that combines many other tools in one convienent package. Used correctly and it can help teach anyone, and using AAC apps can aide in expressive language.

    But to claim it’s some type of miracle device… No.

    We have neither iPad nor iTouch and don’t feel the need to purchase either.

  2. Matt Klassen March 30, 2011 at 21:21 #

    I wrote the piece titled “A Cure For Autism?” and while the title is intentionally provocative (designed of course to get people to read the article)and decidedly tongue-in-cheek, it in no way promotes the iPad as a miracle anything (in fact, I’m fairly anti-iPad). It does recognize, however, that the iPad may be an invaluable tool to the many adults with autism for whom there are few resources.

    Further, one of the distinct benefits of the iPad is cost, as it is decidely cheaper than the devices specifically geared towards people with autism that are thousands of dollars more.

    • Sullivan March 30, 2011 at 22:06 #

      Matt Klassen,

      thanks for taking the time to comment here. I hoped that people would follow the links and read the stories for themselves and see what you wrote.

      I would say this, though. Using your quote: “the iPad may be an invaluable tool to the many adults with autism for whom there are few resources.” Isn’t that, in itself, a “miracle” of sorts?

      What is sort of ironic is that the iPad is promoted due to the lower cost. However, the iPod touch is even cheaper and is more portable and does a lot of what the iPad does.

  3. navi March 31, 2011 at 06:05 #

    however due to the size of the ipod touch, navigating the apps is a bit difficult. The larger size of the ipad is part of what makes the huge difference. Also the fact that the assistive technology apps were available when the iPad came out, where as they were created for the iPhone and iPod touch, only after the app store was introduced, which delayed it’s discovery as an assistive technology tool.

  4. Shannon March 31, 2011 at 18:30 #

    The iPod touch didn’t work so well for our son Leo; it was another “good enough” tool. The iPad was transformative – mostly due to its larger scale, which made it accessible to Leo despite his fine motor challenges. So, in my June 2010 article for BlogHer, I declared the iPad a “near-miracle.”


    In my iPad talks and in many articles, I do my best to highlight methods for determinining whether the iPad is an appropriate device. Some details:


    I maintain an iPads/autism resource page at the URL below, including a spreadsheet of apps reviewed by me, an SLP, and an adult with autism. Please read the reviews by us and on the iTunes store before buying, or try out free/lite versions when possible.


  5. Shannon March 31, 2011 at 18:40 #

    …also, if you listen to how I define a miracle in Apple’s iPad: Year One video (starts at 4:40), it does make sense from our family’s perspective, from Leo’s perspective. It’s something that came in and changed our lives for the better, something I never expected.


  1. Autism Causes – What Are They? « exomystics - March 31, 2011

    […] Wired: iPads Are Not a Miracle for Children With Autism (leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk) […]

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