For most people, an iPad changes the way they read a book, engage in meetings or do their homework. But as the Kiwanis Club of Greater Covington, Louisiana, will attest, the little computers can provide a voice for nonverbal children with autism.
The impact that iPads can have on education specifically for students with disabilities—ranging from a visual impairment or decreased motor skills from cerebral palsy—is being recognized by increasingly more Kiwanis-family clubs. The Kiwanis Club of Greater Covington, Louisiana, became an iPad fan after a representative from Families Helping Families enlightened a club meeting with the many ways in which the agency advocates for and assists individuals with disabilities. The spokesperson talked of the iPad’s capacity to enable an autistic child’s communication of receptive and expressive needs and wants—a message that truly resonated with club member Kathy Smith, who has a friend with an autistic grandchild.
“Then I saw a feature during (the U.S. television news show) ‘60 Minutes’ one Sunday on iPads for children with autism, and it was such a moving piece,” she reflects.
Smith’s prodding, coupled with Families Helping Families’ logistical assistance, led the club to the Savage family, whose 10-year-old son, Hastings, was a perfect candidate.
“His parents, the principal of his school and the young man came to a meeting to receive the iPad,” Smith says. “I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room when his mom and dad thanked the club. His teachers were so happy to have that tool to teach him.”
Reflecting on the impact of their gift, Hastings’ mother, Sharon, stated that “Hastings is now able to connect the dots to everyday life.”
She believes this tool was crucial for his development. He seems to want to learn more and is verbalizing for his teachers and therapists more than ever before. Grateful for this gift, the family is looking for a way to pay it forward to another family with an autistic child.
“It was an easy task and yet the child’s life is changed forever,” shares club member Carol Llull. The club has begun fundraising toward the goal of annually gifting an iPad to a deserving student in the community. –Courtney Meyer
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