iPads and the cheapskate, fearful autism father perspective

15 Jul

Ipads. They have gotten a lot of press in regards to helping autistics. I agree, they are a very good bit of technology. They give a piece of independence to many who might not be able to achieve it otherwise. There is no mouse, no need for typing for many things, an intuitive interface. What’s not to love?

Two things come readily to mind:

1) for the cheapskate in me, there is the cost. iPads run from about $500 on up.

2) for the fearful father in me: dang those things look fragile. They are relatively tough, sure. But read this post by Shannon Des Roches Rosa: iPad Destruction and Salvation. It is a story of fear, pain, redmeption, heroes…everything you could ask for in a blog post.

You see, those big, flat, beautiful screens are glass. Glass breaks. Sure, you can get one of those covers. The silicone ones run about $30 (see point one above: Sullivan the cheapskate). They give some protection and some peace of mind. But, still. They can come off. And there is a certain terror even with the cover on when you see a kid wandering off carrying an iPad by a corner across a tiled floor.

Yes, screens can be replaced. No, they can’t always be replaced. And, face it, Shannon was pretty darned lucky.

Here’s another option to consider that helps both (1) cheapskate-ism and (2) fear. Some places sell iPods and iPads that are refurbished. (team cheapskate approved!). Further, you can get protection plans. Including “accidental damage”. Here’s the language from Overstock.com’s accidental damage policy:

The Platinum Protection Plan protects against those unexpected spills, drops, and accidental handling, as well as mechanical or electrical failures. Platinum Protection coverage includes:

Unintentional spills
Unintentional drops & impacts
Screen damage for products w/LCD screens
Cracked lens for electronics w/lenses
Failures caused by defects in workmanship and materials
Damage caused by power surges

They don’t have iPads at the moment, but I recall seeing them a few weeks ago. There must be other places like this as well. I would double and triple check that the policy would cover accidental damage to the iPad screen before buying.

I checked with the chat feature today and here’s what they said:

Visitor: Does the platinum protection plan cover damage to ipads?
Visitor: I see: The plan will cover accidental damage only on laptops and hand- held electronics such as MP3 Players.

Visitor: Does an iPad count as “hand held electronics” or laptop?
Overstock.com: Yes, if it is offered for the item it will cover it. If there is no option to add the protection plan to the item then it would not be covered.

You might get overstock.com credit rather than a replacement, but that’s better than a dead iPad sitting in a closet mocking you.

I haven’t tested this, so again I urge people to make it clear in advance. And, in case anyone is wondering, the only connection I have to Overstock.com is as a consumer. I only use them as a ready example because I remember going through this pain 2 years ago when I purchased a refurbished iPod touch.

15 Responses to “iPads and the cheapskate, fearful autism father perspective”

  1. farmwifetwo July 15, 2011 at 12:38 #

    iPads are simply another form of electronic babysitter except this one is portable. They keep telling you “my Johnny is learning”… Johnny probably cannot transfer that skill outside of whatever game he’s playing. Instead of learning to sit nicely in a restaurant, Johnny is playing his iPad. I have never allowed any electronic babysitters at the restaurant and my NLD and severe ASD one’s handle going out to eat with minimal fuss.

    Unless you have a reason to spend the money there are many educational videos, games (Jumpstart) on CD for the computer, and online places like PBSkids, CBCkids, TVOkids, Starfall, etc on the computer to play.

  2. passionlessDrone July 15, 2011 at 13:44 #

    Hi Sullivan –

    This might be a perspective problem. I felt the same way for a long time. But, in my neck of the woods, until very recently, we were paying full price for ABA services to the tune of $1200 / $2000 per month; so really, an Ipad was going to cost me the equivalent of two weeks of ABA.

    Given that long view, and the fact that Mr. and Mrs. passionlessDrone could use the iPad when Kid Autism fell asleep made the purchase make more sense.

    I’ve seen our hit the tile or the wood floor twenty times or more and it keeps on going. Rubberized cases are pretty good at absorbing the shock.

    Bottom Line: Nut up and buy your kid an iPad.

    – pD

  3. Leila July 15, 2011 at 15:43 #

    You can try a cheaper tablet too… Or buy an used iPad.

    • Sullivan July 15, 2011 at 17:31 #

      It’s good to keep in mind–the iPad *is* a computer. Apple is great at rebranding things, but iPad=tablet=computer. It’s just a different computer with a different focus. Instead of a $5 mouse as a pointing device, the iPad has much more expensive touch screen. Instead of an expensive Intel chip, they have a much less expensive processor. Instead of relying on Microsoft for the OS, Apple created their own (based on Linux) around their goals.

      The lack of a mouse, while keeping a good graphical user interface based on a pointing device (finger+touchscreen), makes the iPad much more accessible than a regular PC.

      How it is used is up to the consumer. Regular computers can be entertainment platforms too.

  4. jasmin July 15, 2011 at 20:58 #

    I am currently sitting on the Ipad fence. A combination of cheapskate and fear keep me from committing as well. What attracts me to the Ipad is the touch screen. My son has yet to learn how to use a mouse and the idea of being able to call up images easily to communicate appeals greatly to me. And yet there’s that cost and durability factors that hold me back.

  5. Shannon July 15, 2011 at 22:14 #

    Sullivan, thanks for posting this.

    We are indeed lucky. But our iPads also got bashed on, hard, and dropped on wooden floors repeatedly, for more than a year before one actually broke. And that one was dropped at just the right angle on its bare corner, on concrete. Even the military grade tablets aren’t entirely indestructible.

    Refurbished iPads are generally a good deal, plus there are relatively inexpensive insurance options (inexpensive compared to the cost of a new or refurbished iPad): http://www.squaretrade.com/pages/ipad-landing

    FW2, Your comment about the iPad being an electronic babysitter demonstrates considerable ignorance, whether willful or genuine. My son was rarely motivated to learn (and play) independently before his iPad, and his successes have been documented thoroughly and publicly. The iPad’s format is unprecedented for a popular commercial device, and more accessible than a traditional compupter, as Sullivan has mentioned. Its format, and various apps, also makes it easier for many parents and therapists to work with our kids with autism, in terms of curriculum and materials development and portability. It may be that your child or children learn differently than my son and so many of his iPad-loving peers, and that the iPad wouldn’t suit them. That is no reason for you to dismiss other families’ experiences.


    (We were watching Monsters, Inc. yet again last night, so it took all my willpower not to open this with “Hey, Sully-Wully.)

  6. Kassiane July 16, 2011 at 04:58 #

    I don’t understand what an iPad can do that another tablet can’t? They’re certainly available for cheaper, and there are other intuitive OSs available (and games etc).

    They ARE reeally good at spreading the ipad for autism meme, I’ll give them that.

    (sent from my ubuntu running EeePC)

  7. Shannon July 16, 2011 at 06:10 #

    Kassiane, we are not wedded to an iPad, especially as it doesn’t run Flash *but* currently iOS is what the bulk of the apps that help my son run on. The developers tell me that it’s much harder/more complicated to develop non-iOS apps. So, for now, the iPad is our best option.

  8. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. July 16, 2011 at 06:48 #

    Kassiane: “(sent from my ubuntu running EeePC)”

    I use Lubuntu on my now fairly old HP/Compaq nx9020. My friends Bert and Eric got me into it, and I can’t abide Windows now. The Mac OS packages seem to be similar to the Linux ones in as much as they are both ‘Unix-like’ systems. So, for someone using Linux-based OS packages, in theory at least it is probably as easy to use the iOS on an iPad – but don’t quote me on this! The whoe software issue that Shannon refers to is an interesting one, though. This is because of the ease with which suitable software can be developed. For adults, I’d imagine that the sorts of programs needed would be different from those needed by children. So we could probably get by easily with any tablet that is a decendant of the IBM-clone family of computers using Linux-based software (which is essentially free, making it a more economical choice than Windows ever will be).

    This could be an interesting project for some software engineers and psychologists/educators intersted in producing disability-oriented supportive software.

  9. Shannon July 16, 2011 at 13:48 #

    David, two projects focused on developing autism-specific supportive software, Interested development-minded individuals might take a look:

    Hacking autism (sponsored by HP, not thrilled about the catchline re: ‘giving people with autism a voice’ as many of my friends with autism are, shall we say, delightfully verbose):

    MIT Labs Autism and Communication. Technology Initiative:


  10. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. July 16, 2011 at 16:06 #

    Hi Shannon, thanks for those! Shall bookmark immediately!

  11. Navi July 17, 2011 at 02:44 #

    Best buy’s black tie warranty covered me dropping my ipod touch in the bathtub… my ex sending my laptop sailing across the room… etc… etc… let’s just say I got my money’s worth.

    Also, an iPad is portable, whether or not the child can duplicate said skill outside of iPad is irrelevant. It’d be like saying this child can type but not talk… therefore they don’t have speech. It’s just easier for some people to use the touch screen interface, over a keyboard.

    I’m not sure my son will look at an iPad. didn’t pay much attention to the ipod touch…. his classroom is getting one next school year… we’ll see.

  12. Nightstorm July 17, 2011 at 04:20 #

    Johnny probably cannot transfer that skill outside of whatever game he’s playing.

    And you know this because? FTR if I didn’t play “Legend of Zelda” on the NES as a tyke, I don’t think I would have developed the fine motor control I have today, or the hand-eye, probably in time, but not as quickly. iPad is a tool, a versatile one and can allow communicative advantages. However like any other tool you have to consider your options and pros and cons. I agree with Kass about getting a cheaper tablet. The ipad could allow easier access however to pro-loqo

  13. Kassiane July 17, 2011 at 07:57 #

    I know a LOT of the open source community, at least around here, are pretty interested in developing educational software for a number of platforms. I can’t CODE it, but some of the stuff they’ve put together is fun & intuitive.

    It’ll be interesting to see where it all goes. And if the FOSS movement starts coding competition–autistics are THEIR PEOPLE!

  14. Julian Frost July 20, 2012 at 13:58 #


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