I’m an actor/producer living in Los Angeles. I’m the uncle of awesome fraternal twins, Jake and Luke. Jake’s autistic. Jake’s verbal, so for him, the iPad’s not about ‘giving him a voice’. Jake’s iPad gives him a powerful tool to help navigate this crazy and chaotic non-autistic world the rest of us live in. Kids with autism are often on sensory overload, fully absorbing all the sights and sounds around them, unable to decipher the important cues from the mundane. This can make simple public outings, like going to a restaurant, a huge challenge. Jake would have frequent loud meltdowns simply because it was all overwhelming and confusing for him. Imagine being in a n environment where hearing your mom ask you “What do you want for dinner?” carries equal weight and importance to the clanging of a fork and plate 2 tables over or to the hum of the air conditioner coming from the ceiling? When Jake has his iPad in these situations, he’s able to tune in and chill out. Of course Jake also uses his iPad a lot at school to help learn math, spelling, and reading. From the touch screen to the predictability of sequences, there are many reasons autistic kids respond so well to tablets, though, if you ask Jake, he’ll tell you his favorite thing is to watch AFV videos on it :).
Watching my brother’s family navigate this new normal, I’ve also seen how thinly stretched parents of special needs children can become with their time and money. It becomes a full time job on top of a full time job, especially those critical early years. When Jake was 2-5yrs old, he had 40 hours a week of ABA therapy (applied behavioral analysis) along with speech and occupational therapy. His mom & dad had to juggle that full time schedule with Jake’s twin brother’s schedule on top of their already busy work schedules. That’s a whole lotta work for any parents. And that’s just with 2 kids! Bottom line, family’s with special needs kids often need a little help. The average annual cost to a family to care for 1 special needs kid is about $60,000. Families fight so hard to give their kid the best chance at life possible. I hate knowing that some of these kids are unable to get their eager hands on such valuable tools, like an iPad, due to financial constraints.
When I see how much Jake loves his iPad and the countless blessings it continues to give him, I want every autistic child to experience what Jake does when …“It’s iPad Time”!!!