Does Apple’s freshly announced iOS 6 have you hankering for an upgrade? Instead of letting your old iPad collect dust on the shelf, you might consider donating it to Reach for the APPs.
Reach for the APPs, a non-profit organization that launches today, is partnering with school districts nationwide to provide children on the autistim spectrum with access to iPads.
Apple has long touted its device’s assistive technology as a powerful tool for the educational development of physically and mentally disabled children. The iPad’s touch screen makes it easier to manipulate than more traditional educational tools.
For children with autism, “the iPad is not a toy, but a tool that works best when there is a ‘team effort’ between parents and therapists encouraging its proper use,” said Marc Reisner, co-founder of Reach for the APPs. “Our goal is to provide schools with iPads so they can reach every child on the autistic spectrum.”
Reach for the APPs built their site with an initial donation from Managed Digital. Now, they’re seeking out donations of money and/or iPads from both individuals and corporations to propel the program forward.
According to reports from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1-in-88 children have some form of autism, up 78 percent from just a decade ago. The demand for augmentative communications devices is growing. But the schools can’t meet the demand, so the children are losing valuable time during critical developmental years.
Lois Brady, a speech language pathologist and assistive technology specialist, said apps can help develop fine-motor skills, which will in turn make functions like writing and manipulating small objects easier for the students.
“I have spent years working with the most challenging students that are considered profoundly disabled,” she said. “And I have seen some small miracles when I introduce the iPad into our therapy, as the children have made huge gains in attention, focus, communication, language and literacy skills.”
Some experts also say that the iPad can lessen symptoms of autistic disorders, helping children deal with life’s sensory overload.
Brady will be contributing content to the Reach for the APPs website to inform therapists about the latest-and-greatest apps for children all over the autistim spectrum. Apps must be tailored specifically to a child’s age and level of development.
Reiser told Mashable about a few of the apps that therapists are using.
“TouchChat HD with Word Power provides the student with a full-featured, high tech communications device with icons and features that are familiar to many educators and students,” he said. “Fun with Directions HD is good to practice listening, focus attention and build auditory processing skills. Injini is a Child Development Game Suite that helps to expand a student’s cognition, language and motor skills utilizing play-based learning games.”
Reach for the APPs is partnering with two pilot districts in Los Angeles for their launch. In just these two districts there are over 16,000 special needs students who could benefit from an iPad. They are hoping to get iPads into special education programs as early as this summer.
Visit Reach for the APPs to learn more about how to donate.