“It is a beautiful thing that people care enough to help change kids’ lives”
With the grant from Inclusive Kids we purchased an iPad and apps for Ben. The apps have been a springboard to better social interactions for him. Because of his medical condition and his severe stutter, people struggle to understand him so communication has not been a positive process for him. The iPad has been a marvelous tool as it helps him to communicate. He is a highly creative boy who loves to write stories, but of course reading them out to people has been another matter. However, one of the apps has allowed him to share his creativity because it ‘speaks’ what he has written. Another app helps him to perform plays with the different characters, and this has encouraged him to do his best to communicate his own words and ideas.
He has developed phenomenal skills at navigating the technology of the iPad. He does lots of research on different topics – Star Wars and Angry Birds are the current favourites. This makes him the ‘expert’ with the other children, as he has a good knowledge base in topics that interest them. Consequently, Ben is more willing to engage in conversation. His speech has improved over the last six months as he has been getting a lot of help at school, but I think his recent willingness to initiate conversations has come largely from his new confidence that he has valuable and interesting knowledge and stories to share.
We all have iPads at home and now that Ben has his own learning and exploring on the iPad is an experience that is shared by all of us. Ben’s expertise with the technology means that he can show us how to do things. He feels valuable and competent. Using the iPad seems to have improved his memory as well – he remembers things like passwords that he hasn’t used for ages, simply because they are important for what he wants to do.
I feel more confident about his future. Education in schools these days is less about received knowledge, and more about how to learn. The iPad is a tool that teaches people how to learn and explore and Ben is demonstrating competence in learning through the technology. Technology is going to keep changing but it will only grow in its importance in life. Ben certainly seems to understand his way around the technology of the iPad. I am sure that he will be able to adapt to the changes that happen in technology and this will make him more employable.
It can be an extra worry when you have a child with special needs – you worry about how people will treat them. It is great to know that there are many people out there who care enough to contribute even their small change. It all grows into these grant funds. Their thoughtfulness has helped us to help Ben be the best he can be.