Steve Jobs was an infinitely creative man. I am yet to read his biography but I am not sure, even with his natural ability to use technology in new and innovative ways, that he would have realised just how much his products have helped, and are helping, children with special needs.
We are a dedicated Apple family. Macbooks, iPhones and the brilliant iPad. Collectively, they are our means of work, communication, shopping basket and entertainment centre. With a husband working for Telefonica and a brother who works for the mighty Apple itself, we’re almost evangelical about the stuff. But in the last few months, I’ve started to realise that these little bits of electronic genius have a role to play in our house that I would never have predicted. Orange, it turns out, is a huge Apple fan too (how ridiculous does that sound? I will remind you once again that the boy isn’t actually called Orange…).
It was this post by a friend who has a little boy with a similar condition to Orange, that made me realise just what a wonderful legacy Steve Jobs has left, in ways he probably didn’t predict. It turns out that Orange is not alone. Lots of children, just like him, with developmental delays and learning disabilities of all kinds, are linking in to the digital world and taking leaps and bounds in their development, through using iPads, not just for games and learning but also as a motivational tool to help them with all areas of their development. Freddie, just like Orange, needs to do plenty of supported standing and playing on his tummy to help his gross motor skills. And, just like Orange, he really doesn’t like doing it. But with the help of an iPad to hold his attention, today Freddie played beautifully on his tummy.
Orange needs to spend a LOT of time playing on his tummy, to develop strength in his chest and arms to push up and crawl. Since he learned to roll it has been really hard to keep him on his tummy for long enough. But thanks to Peppa Pig on iTunes, and a willing sister, Orange played on his tummy happily for ages. And even started to get cross that he couldn’t push himself forward to get to the screen. Motivating him to get moving in this way is half the battle in helping him with his development. If he wants to do something, it’s more than likely he’ll give me the chance to help him achieve it. If he doesn’t, it’s soul destroying and physically exhausting for both of us. But look…here he is, on his tummy and loving it. There were a fair few proper belly laughs from the lad during this episode. No doubt Daddy Pig had done something very silly indeed:
For now, I have no doubt that the iPad, in particular, with its touch screen, will help Orange with his visual, hand/eye and intellectual development in many ways we don’t yet know. But I am also realising now that we have only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of what technology can help Orange achieve. Who knows, it might be his means of communication one day if he doesn’t learn to talk. Perhaps even a way of earning a living, being creative, finding friends, linking in to the world in ways that children and adults with special needs and learning disabilities have never been able to do before. It’s a game changer.