iPod Touch helps autistic kids learn to speak, communicate

By: Alana Greenfogel Email
By: Alana Greenfogel Email

Parents and teachers of children with autism and other verbal disabilities know how challenging it can be at times to communicate with their kids. That’s changing at schools in Plymouth with the help of the iPod Touch.

Paulina is a kindergartener. She sits around a table with other students coloring her assignment, but she needs the help of an aide because she can’t speak. Well, she couldn’t speak until a few weeks ago when she started using the iPod Touch.

Paulina can answer her aides and teachers' questions or indicate how she’s feeling by pushing the buttons on the iPod. She can say "she's hungry" or "has to go to the bathroom" or she can say something as simple as she "wants to use the green crayon."

This is a tangible, hands-on learning tool that connects with the kids more than other types of therapy. The schools' aides and speech pathologist say they've never seen progress quite like this before. Hearing the iPod’s voice has encouraged the kids to repeat the words on their own.

"Just in these couple weeks she's had great progress with the words that she can use and the phrases she can say,” says Michelle Richter, Paulina’s aide.

"They are frustrated. They know what they want to say but they're just not able to express themselves,” says Rita Large, the district’s speech pathologist. "I love technology because I think it's so exciting because it lets us do so much more."

Large says grants and stimulus money paid for the iPods.

She hopes one day every student who could benefit will have his or her own iPod, but that will require some financial help from parents.

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