When the iPad Mini came out in the market last fall, it became a “hot” item instantly. It is a bit smaller and cheaper than the standard iPad. A recent study has discovered that seventy per cent of children use the tablets in a home. Out of this lot, about eighty per cent of them use it for gaming and less than fifty per cent use it as an educational medium. Some schools in Australia have now made it compulsory for children between seven and ten years of age to bring their tablets to classes. The use of iPads among those with autism is growing drastically as more and more specific applications for those on the spectrum are being developed.
Apple has lead the way with applications for smart phones and while android applications are improving, most apps debut on Apple. Those tools specifically targeting autism are no exception. While these applications will work on all products, some are designed for the iPhone, iPad or both. Is the iPad mini a good compromise between the smaller display of the iPhone versus the larger display in the more cumbersome iPad.
iPad Mini is versatile. The ten-inch pad is unique for its display size, its frame size and its price. The frame size may be of concern to children with special needs as they have a tendency to hold the frame with their hands. There is a possibility that they may accidentally touch the screen occasionally and change the image unintentionally. iPad Mini is priced at $329. It has all the other important features of the standard iPad like the camera and the video and all the apps that work for iPad will also work with the iPad Mini. The accessories are helpful for people with special needs. iGuy Protective Case or the Kidbox Mini Case are child friendly options. A stylus is also helpful for students who run into difficulty while trying to make out specific movements on the iPad Mini screen.
On the downside, there is expansion slot and of minor concern is the camera lacks a flash. Perhaps the most annoying feature is the proprietary USB connector. Like the iPhone 5 it requires a new cable instead of a standard microUSB.
200 mm (7.87 inches)
134.7 mm (5.3 inches)
7.2 mm (0.28 inch)
308 g (0.68 pound)
Generic Advantages of Tablets
During a recently concluded Macworld Conference in San Francisco, it was explained how the iPad Mini can be useful in teaching new skills to people suffering with autism and in improving the skills that they already possess. It was demonstrated that the apps on this tablet would help the autistic people to learn new words, phrases and sounds. It would also help them by showing them how to draw pictures or take a shower.
It has been stated that educational devices like iPad Mini may have sleeper effect on young children and help to spill over several educational benefits even after a decade. Hundreds of apps were identified that were focused on youngsters and how they could be instrumental in educating them while being fun.
Mizuko Ito, a cultural anthropologist and an Associate Researcher at the University of California, feels that iPads offer enormous opportunities for development among children. Ito feels that such tablets will encourage social interaction. Ito expects positive benefits for children with an iPad in those families that are better oriented towards positive learning content with moderate use of educational apps.
Generic Disadvantages of Tablets
There are arguments against iPad Mini being damaging for children. There is an ongoing worry that children tend to get addicted to the tablet and it may not bode well for their mental and physical health. It is speculated that iPad Mini will ultimately find its way into millions of homes and possibly someday there will even be one per child.
Excessive use of tablets may lead to inactivity leading to developmental and mobility issues. It may also have an impact on health issues. There are psychological concerns that are linked to depression, poor social skills with a negative impact on the ability of children to empathize.
Baroness Greenfield, a member of the House of Lords and a scientist has come out with some controversial statements in England stating that excessive use of tablets by children for video gaming and social networking may lead to psychological issues, linking it even to autism.
The ultimate decision on the purchase will rest with either the parent or the therapist depending on the special needs of the autistic child. Tablets are still in their infancy stage as an educational tool for people who are autistic. However the possibilities seem very positive as many educators and parents have started using iPads and other tablets as learning tools for those on the autism spectrum.