Hey, School District, My Kid Needs an iPad!

For those of us still struggling with  rationale for the school district purchase of an iPad for a child with a disability, know that the struggle is real.

School districts don’t always immediately wrap their minds around iPad technology because it has so much else going on (Angry Birds, anyone?). The purchase of this relatively inexpensive (next to almost any augmentative communication device, anyway) becomes problematic.

Found “Six Steps to Get the iPad into Your Child’s Special Needs Classroom on blog.friendshipcircle.org, in the technology section:

1.Make sure your child qualifies

There is no point in making a stink if your child won’t qualify for an AAC Communication Device.  If your child does not qualify for an AAC Device there is no way a school will provide an iPad.

The iPad is much more than an assistive communication device and is a great tool for children that are verbal as well (For example Life Skills & Social skills apps for kids with Asperger’s etc). Unfortunately most school districts will only contemplate  an iPad for communication purposes and nothing more.

2. Make sure your child can use the iPad

The iPad may not be suitable for Children who have difficulty with fine motor skills. You must make sure your child can hold his or her hand steady long enough to tap and scroll the screen.  On a cognitive level your child also must be able to differentiate between different pictures.

3. Know why your school doesn’t like iPads

Before you make the case for an iPad find out why your school isn’t into it. Knowing why your school won’t provide one will help you prepare your case for getting one. Some of the more common reasons are:

  • The iPad includes Non- Educational Elements
    Schools want to make sure that they are providing  materials that will be used to its fullest potential. Knowing that the iPad could be used for movies and games makes them cringe.
  • Stimming
    A claim is made that kids start stimming while using the iPad. Instead of going from one step to the next the child will start repetitively tapping the same picture or sound.
  • Change
    It takes bureaucracies a long time to make changes and schools can be no different.  Instead of being innovative and forward thinking you may have a school that wants to keep the status quo and not make changes to what is already in place

4. Explain why you need an iPad over other AAC Devices

Prepare a list of pros for iPad and cons for the regular communication devices  Some ideas to inlcude:

Why the standard AAC Device does not work for my child
A. It is hard to program
B. It is bulky and heavy
C. Makes my child stick out and look different
D. A battery charge only lasts a few hours

Why an iPad will work for my child
A. The iPad provides the most sophisticated and up to date communication applications
B. Very intuitive display and layout, making it easy for a child with special needs to use (and makes it easier for their parents to program)
C. Extremely light and easy to transport
D. Battery last 10 hours

5. Speak Out

A. Start with your child’s teacher.  Explain to the teacher why you feel your child needs an iPad. Make sure you are not confrontational. Advocate for your child in a calm and respectful manner.

B. If your teacher is unwilling or unable to help take it to the next level ask to speak to the person who coordinates augmentative communication in your district. If that doesn’t help go up the ladder to the Superintendent of Special Education.

C. If you are still finding the going tough ask other parents in similar situations (parents with a child who goes to the same school and needs an AAC device to help communicate) to work together to change the schools mind. The voice of one may be ignored but an outcry from many parents will not be drowned out.

D. Bring in outside advocates who will stand by your side and will help request, cajole and maybe even threaten legal proceedings. A professional advocate knows how to talk the school’s language and can cut through the red tape.

6. Be Informed- Resources to back up your claims

To further prove your point show them that schools all over the country are starting to implement iPads in special education classrooms. Here are some links to articles and videos about schools all around the country using iPads in the Classroom.