Leslie Stahl on APPS for i-Pad & how non-verbal autistics can use them

Click for 60-Minutes video. Short ad first.

It’s truly magical watching a recent CBS 60-Minutes segment with Leslie Stahl on how the i-Pad and several of its APPS have opened the world of inter-communication between children and adults and those not able to speak, such as individuals with a severe autism disorder, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury or even a stroke.

The entire segment only lasts about 13 minutes in total and is well worth the time it takes to watch it.

I especially found watching Joshua Hood, aged 28 years of age (in the photo to the left), truly inspiring. An autistic, the hand-held computer and the Proloquo2Go APP has changed his world — all thanks to Apple’s Steve Job. In fact, Joshua smiled from ear-to-ear through the entire filming.  

So, I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that the i-Pad, along with other types of text to audio technology, has changed the way parents, teachers and other loved ones, look at what individuals who can’t speak actually know.

For example, towards the end of the video, at the Toronto District School Board’s Beverley School, there is a young fellow that just loves opera and seems totally immersed watching the three Tenors. Yet, no one had any idea prior to the i-Pad.

All this brings back memories to a decade ago when I was in private practice, while teaching university. I worked with a woman in her mid-twenties who had severe cerebral palsy. Her head and tongue were constantly jerking so it was very difficult for her to communicate. And, apart from her husband, few were able to understand her verbally.  

Yet, I was determined to learn more about her. So, we used her Bliss Board (much as Joshua demonstrated at first in the 60 Minutes segment) which is agonizingly slow. But, she also had a computer program where she could write what she was thinking and then change that text to audio. So, I would sit and ” talk” to her for a hour or two just going over what, why and how she wanted to write — as that was her dream.

In time, I was also able to translate what she was saying by listening to her read what she had written — although it is very difficult for someone to learn to read who can’t say the letters and words. But, this woman was highly motivated.  The last I heard she had a weekly column on special needs in a small town paper somewhere in Ontario.  

So, yes, i-Pad APPS will help anyone who is non-verbal, no matter what their special need, but it seems it is especially helpful for those with autism as they seem to be able to attend and focus on the task at hand.

There are many APPS for the i-Pad, depending on the age and needs of each person. The one Joshua was using was called Proloquo2Go, while other options are AutismXpress and Look in My Eyes.

H/T MadMacs of Bytown with thanks.