iPads help kids with disabilities bridge gap

May 26, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Assistive technology devices have given children with different disabilities the ability to develop communication skills. But with apps on the iPads children feel "cool" among their non-disabled peers.

At Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region Lucas Drynan is working with his speech therapists using apps on his iPad. Lucus is seven and half years old and has been coming there for two years, says mom Cristina.

"He has cerebral palsy. He's classified as a spastic quadriplegic," said Cristina. "He gets occupational therapy, physical therapy and assistive technology therapy...He can't walk he doesn't have full speech. He has a signs he can communicate with. He uses his iPad for more elaborate communication."

Speech language pathologist Kate Roth said there are so many benefits of using iPad for therapy.

"It's provided people with fine-motor problems or people who can't access a iPhone or an iPod Touch the ability to use the devices because it has such a large screen, and it's so portable and it can go anywhere and applications carry across so many different areas of life," said Roth. "The physical therapists are using them in physical therapy and occupational therapists are using them in therapy."

Dad Dylan has seen positive changes with Lucus since he started using the iPad.

"His behavior has gotten a lot better. He much's happier because. He can actually communicate with us a little better and, you know, he used to get very frustrated because he couldn't say what he wanted to say and now he has a way to do that so it's helped a lot," said Dylan.

Roth says there are over 40 apps for communication alone.

"It's their voice...so whenever you would talk and open your mouth they are taking out their i-Pad and using it. So to express themselves and communicate their ideas and wants and feelings," said Roth.

"The hardest part is keeping his brother and sister away from it. But they are pretty good. They know it's his talker and it's just for Lucus," said Dylan.

"The i-Pad is another piece of equipment that can bridge the gap in the life of a person with disabilities...it allows people with disabilities a way to play and draw and communicate and interact in a way they didn't have access to before," said Roth.


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