The idea for this website came in December 2012 when my 23 year old son Ben received an iPad mini for Christmas. Ben was born with a rare chromosomal disorder which resulted in an intellectual disability and cerebral palsy. Though he is non-verbal, he has always had the ability to communicate his basic wants and needs, but we have always seen a need to find some device that could expand his abilities. It was clear very soon after he started working with his new iPad that with the right application this could work well for some of Ben’s communication (as well as entertainment) needs.
At the same time I was about six months into a graduate certificate program at Virginia Commonwealth University called Va-LEND – Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities. Part of the program is to create a project which demonstrates leadership related to advocacy, policy, research, training, or an unmet community need for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities. It occurred to me that while I researched apps for Ben’s iPad it would be helpful to create an easy to use catalogue for other parents. It is my hope to build a community of contributors who will help to build the site into a comprehensive resource for any parent who wants to research the possibility of using an iPad for their child.
It has been an interesting journey working on this project with Ben. I wish this kind of resource had been available years ago when he was much younger. Since his graduation from high school two years ago the focus on improving his communication skills has not been as intense. I have found that his interest is more on the entertainment sites. By far most of his time is spent at Netflix where he loves watching his favorite shows like America’s Funniest Home Videos (he has a wonderful sense of humor and spends hours howling at the antics), Mighty Machines (he has always had great love for cars and trucks), and Blues Clues (don’t ask me why). However, he did discover a couple of sites that allow him to use some imagination and creativity. He loves Piano Puppies and Sketchpad (where he is able to draw cars and trucks in every color imaginable). He also likes the interactivity of My PlayHome and Tap to Talk. We’ve just started working with Injini, which is a little more challenging cognitively, so much more redirection is needed right now. He does seem to be catching on though.
If you would like to learn more about Ben and our family go to http://tri9mom.com . It’s a chronological site so start at the beginning.