Since the day Danny got his hands on my iPod (aka, the day I finally gave in), Danny has adored the thing. Now, this is not overly strange in any way… Both of my kids are very technologically inclined, and honestly, they both love to play on it. The thing that makes it worth noting with Danny, though, is that it’s almost like a security blanket to him.

At first, it was like my dirty little secret. I mean, when it comes to parenting most kids, as far as I’m concerning things like the computer, ipod, etc, should be limited. It certainly should be embraced – it’s a part of the technology that defines our society these days – but it shouldn’t be an hours and hours on end kind of thing. Eric self-limits himself even further than we limit him a lot of the time; he is allowed a certain amount of time each evening on the computer, and often he shuts it off halfway through. Danny… Well, Danny would go all day long, probably, if we let him.

The thing about it is, though, is that he’s actually getting something out of it. He carries the iPod around sometimes with the clock running, and instead of doing other sensory seeking stuff like tearing his ears off and rolling around on the floor, he just looks at it now and then. The numbers scrolling by give him whatever it is he needs, and he goes back to playing or whatever else it was he was doing. He won’t be actively engaged with the iPod, but if you try to take it away from him, he’ll be quite upset…because it’s grounding him, I think.

And he’s learning. Any kind of learning experience in person has him disengaging after 5 or 10 minutes at home, completely ignoring me if he can’t actually walk away. But not the iPod, on no! He will sit on it playing learning games, engaging, laughing, and having fun. It gives him enough back that it’s worth it to him to work – and finding motivation for this kid is one of the hardest things to do. He’s learned matching on there (something he refuses to do for me most of the time), puzzles, counting and numbers, shapes… There are some things (like shapes, and numbers 11-20) that I swear he’s had no exposure to outside of the iPod, because he’s just not interested with me, but one day I will catch him counting (sixteen/ish-ee, seventeen/eh-eh-ee, eighteen/ay-K-ee) and pointing to objects as he does it, or the opthamologist will ask him to point to a square and he’ll do it without hesitation. All thanks to this tiny little device that connects to him in a way that… Well, it’s not that he can’t do it with me – he can and does – but he can’t sustain it for very long unless we’re being physical.

So yes, my 3 year old often gets his hands on my $200 piece of electronics, and he spends a lot of time with it. I’ve learned to let go of the way it’s “supposed to be” and go with what works. My 3 year old being able to identify a lower case “h” and the number 13 on sight works for me. And as we’re starting to look into introducing a PECS, I start looking at all the articles and such out there lately talking about iPods and iPads and non-verbal kids and go, maybe that will one day be a bridge for us, and instead of connecting to the iPod, he’ll connect to us through the iPod.

I’ve found a lot of ideas for apps at Special Education Apps and Moms With Apps. A few of Danny’s current favorites…

FirstWords – I tried a trial of this, and Danny was so INTO it that I actually bought the deluxe version. I never spend that much on apps, but for a child that loves letters, is non-verbal but learning that written words have meaning, I don’t regret it.

Whizzit 1 2 3 – I’m convinced this is where Danny learned to count to 20, learned to associate counting with individual objects instead of just reciting numbers, and learned to recognize the numerals 0 – 9, which he can identify individually and place in order.

Monkey Preschool Lunchbox – I actually originally got this for Eric quite a while back, and it was Danny’s introduction to the iPod. He loved to watch the monkey jump and flip, and that monkey inspired him to learn how to use the iPod…including isolating a single finger to point and tap. Also features matching, memory, puzzles, and letters/colors.

First Words & Baby Flash Cards – These are a pretty basic vocabulary builders. Colors, shapes, numbers, letters, animals, vehicles… Danny likes First Words more than Baby Flash Cards, I think because he can choose from a field what he’s interested in.

Tiny Wings – Because you have to have fun! Honestly, this is one I got for myself, and thoroughly love…but Danny likes to watch, and sometimes to pull it up and try for himself.

As a special mention, I’ll throw in a link to Proloquo2Go, which is not something we have, nor is it something I’m planning on buying at the moment. However, from what I’ve read and seen, it looks like a phenomenal augmentive communication program/app. Like a PECS in your pocket.




Tammy Kenny on 25 May, 2011 at 7:42 am #

This is awesome Kel! Aiden loves my iPhone too and I have to limit him or he’d spend all day on it. It’s actually the only time he sits still. He also loves sites like starfall on the computer too. All of my kids are techies and like you said, it’s today’s society. I’m wanting to get the iPad for them (and me!), but thinking it’d be better to invest in something for outdoors instead! lol!

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