Soon after the iPad was introduced to the world, it was hailed as a wonderful therapeutic device for children with autism. It certainly has a wonderful array of applications that can be very helpful in teaching children, not just children with autism.
One reason that it can be a powerful tool in helping autistic children, is the fact that it can hold their attention with the wonderful design and technology. The same reasons that it can hold their attention is the same reasons that it can also become something they could obsess over. I have seen this first hand. Believe me I have!
My son fell in love with the iPad and I mean love at first sight! I eagerly purchased iTunes cards every chance I had to put the latest and greatest educational applications that were recommended for autistic children. He just loved all the new additions. Then I discovered he talked about the iPad just about all the time. Every chore that was done ended with the phrase, “now the iPad.” He quoted from games and books that he regularly played and viewed. The biggest issue that occurred with him was the tantrums or meltdowns that occurred when the iPad had to be taken from him. The iPad became the only thing that usually caused his meltdowns.
I had originally let the iPad hold his attention when cooking or doing household chores to keep him occupied. This way I could do these things without worrying that he a great deal of idle time on his hands. It really worked until I realized he had become totally “addicted” to the iPad. So letting him have the iPad without firmer limits set in place really caused our family more harm than good. I had to back the iPad time down and set up firm limits.
Please when purchasing an iPad, remember to set up limits before it gets placed into the child’s hand. Take it from me, this will help in the long run. Now in our case, we set up a kitchen timer and my son knows that when the timer goes off after 10, 15, or 30 minutes that iPad time is over. This way he has a visual and audible reminder letting him know iPad time is over. Another thing that will help you is to have some days when the iPad is given a “day off.” This will help with it not becoming a daily pattern and my hope is, that will not be mentioned or thought of every day. Something else to keep in mind is to always be aware of how and what your youngster is playing on the iPad.
I know that it is hard to take things away that they love, but in the long run it certainly will benefit them and you also. I hope my experiences can help some out there. Hoping that in the future you will not have something so wonderful for your children become a source of possible headaches and frustration.
Now that we have firmer limits placed on the iPad, things are getting better and better all the time in our home. If you set limits, you will more than likely not have to go through what my family went through.
Key things to remember:
- Before giving the child the iPad, set up limits
- Stick to the limits, do not back down
- Get a kitchen timer so they will have visual and audible reminder when iPad time stops
- Have certain days that the iPad is not given to the child
- When child is playing on the iPad, make sure they are playing with it appropriately