I've posted quite a bit on social media about how Tosh uses his iPad for communication, and even published this blog post on Proloquo2Go hacks we've learned.
But what I haven't written about is how getting an iPad for Tosh was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I couldn't care less about people who have judged me regarding his screen time.
Around 18 months, Tosh began to regress. By the time he was two, he was really struggling. He couldn't focus on anything for more than a second. He didn't play with many toys, couldn't sit still to read a book for more than a few pages and he didn't show any sign that he could learn.
Then, I got an iPad mini to use while on business trips. I downloaded a couple of apps for Tosh and it quickly became his iPad.
I was stunned and how easily he learned apps. At just two years old he could master them within a few hours.
It was the first time he was able to show me he was smart.
Some parents have asked me if I think they should get their autistic child an iPad. The answer is always yes.
Yes because it might be a platform they can use to communicate their intelligence when other platforms like books or toys fail. Yes because it can function as a sensory regulator when in public, so they can go out into the world like everyone else. Yes because it can be used to communicate.
And yes, because it can buy you a few minutes of peace. Anybody who judges you for that can step in and babysit your autistic child for a few hours. Then we'll see what they have to say.
The next question I get from parents is which apps should they download. All kids are different, but here are the ones Tosh likes best.
TinyHands were the very first apps we downloaded for Tosh and I was stunned at how quickly he learned them. We bought several of them individually, including all of the ones in this bundle. His favorite "Tower 1" game is only available on iPhone now, but it's in this bundle. With these apps he learned how to use a touchscreen and basic concepts like stacking by size, sorting and matching. The bonus was that autistic kiddos are usually pretty good at sorting and stacking, so these apps also built his self-confidence.
Tosh has never met an alphabet game or toy he didn't like, so this one was a slam dunk. Plus he had the Fisher-Price Puppy so this was a nice bridge between an app and a real toy.
This app can be pretty stimulating and might be too much for your child. Sometimes it overstimulated Tosh but he really loved it (as you can see by the open button it's still on his device and mine). Plus, the driving game taught him great hand-eye coordination.
You can't go wrong with Elmo. Tosh loved this app and a similar one, Elmo Loves ABCs. He still has that one on his iPad and plays with it sometimes. The educational benefits are obvious - learning to count, identify numbers and trace to build beginning writing skills.
This app is great for learning about weather and appropriate clothes and activities for each weather type. But Tosh loves it because it's so silly. Things blow away when it's really windy and the characters shiver or sweat if they're wearing the wrong clothing. Having grown up in Kansas, I giggle at the tornado siren and how the characters go underground until the tornado has passed.
Tosh still loves this app and plays with it several times a week. It really is adorable, using Claymation to teach the alphabet. And the animal they use for Y is Yeti, which is pretty cool.
Sago Mini apps are fun and adorable and Tosh still plays with them all frequently. Most of them require creativity and decision making to build something. This time of year, try the Monsters app for Halloween fun that isn't scary.
Sigh. My baby is growing up and now he's playing with a full-on video game. Smashy City is exactly what it sounds like - giant characters smashing urban landscapes while being chased and shot at by police and the military. Awesome. At least it is teaching him strategy because the larger the building, the more points and power the smasher earns. He still hasn't mastered this one, but I love that it's an age appropriate game. Proof he's developing along with his neurotypical peers!
Heather Anderson is a natural health educator, writer, blissfully happy autism mom, fintech marketer and lover of life in Southern California.
Please join me on this autism journey. Let’s create a positive, supportive community in which we can learn, grow and prosper. Where the focus isn’t just on your autistic child, but on your own personal growth as well.