Recently I have seen a lot of discussion about iPads (and technology as a whole). Are they good for people to spend a lot of time on? What happened to the good old days of playing out? Isn’t it awful when you go to a restaurant and see people sat on them instead of talking to each other? These are all good points but when you are looking at it from the view of someone in Connie’s position then the argument against iPads sort of fades into the background. (For those that aren’t aware Connie has Rett Syndrome, epilepsy and severe learning difficulties.)
Connie spends a lot of time on her iPad. It is the one thing that she will sit quietly and actually concentrate on. She has had it for years (and is probably due an upgrade) and over time she has become really good at using it and can navigate her way around most apps unless she wants to search something specific on the internet (like a place we are going to) and then we step in to help and type the place name into Google for her.
Her two favourite apps are without a doubt YouTube and Facebook. She has been known to sit for about an hour on YouTube in the lounge in her favourite chair watching old programmes on there like Postman Pat, Bob the Builder and her favourite Come Outside. In normal circumstances, Connie sitting for that long is unheard of but the iPad really gives her the chance to sit, relax and focus on something she enjoys. How long do people spend watching their soaps each night on the television? This is the equivalent of that for Connie. Facebook is Connie’s connection to our local community and our family friends. She absolutely loves going on, scrolling through people’s pictures and seeing with they are up to. We obviously only accept friend requests for her from people that she knows but she would be lost without it! It is one of the things she does that is normal for any 21 year old!
Obviously there are a huge list of other apps that are useful for people with special educational needs and we are just starting to explore these for Connie. One she likes is called Fireworks and the screen interacts with her touch and releases colourful fireworks and another plays music when she touches the screen. It has to be said that these ones for Connie don’t engage her for a very long time but it is still helping her skills for the short time she uses it. We also have a list of apps recommended by Rett UK so we will give them a try and let you know!
One of the main benefits of the iPad for Connie is that it is one of her methods of communicating. We use it to show her where we are going, what we are doing, who we are seeing. We can also use it to help Connie make choices like where she wants to go by showing her pictures and logos on there for her to point to and pick. Connie doesn’t take her iPad out with her a lot locally but it ALWAYS comes with us if we are going away. When we are on holiday it helps by giving Connie something to do to relax and of course it helps with showing her new places so she can become familiar with where we are going.
So even though I can understand the argument that people shouldn’t spend hours on technology, the massive advantages of technology for people with disabilities or learning difficulties should not be ignored. Connie hasn’t grown up with a childhood where she is able to play out with her friends but thanks to the iPad she can now interact with her friends and connect with what is going on around her. And as a lot of our followers know, she is out and about with us all the time getting her fresh air to match the time spent on her iPad – it is all about balance!
What do you think about iPads and technology as a whole? We would love to know your thoughts! Is there some form of technology that you rely on for communicating and connecting? Or is it there as your way to relax?