May 16, 2012

Autism and iPads: Technology is more than just Angry Birds

In 2010, the first iPad, the iPad 1, was released. Millions flocked to Apple stores worldwide to be the first to get the new technology. However, some people were too busy with problems of their own to get the device.

Sharia Siddiqui was born to a Pakistani family in 2007. Her family was ecstatic, their first child! But as time went on, they began to suspect something was wrong. Sharia would stare at the television set in their house for hours, not responding when called or for any reason. At first, the parents(Ayza Sheikh and Fawad Siddiqui) thought she had a hearing problem. But when her hearing turned out to be fine, they worried. They took Siddiqui to a specialist at an early detection center when she was two years old. They found out she had ASD, or Autism Spectrum Disorder. Sometimes it’s better to be left wondering than to know.. and sometimes knowing hurts.

With therapy, Siddiqui could talk a little bit, but it wasn’t enough.

When Sharia was 3, the iPad came out. They got her one, and everything changed for them. Her father says that before Sharia was brought the iPad, her only method of communication was crying.

"What the iPad has done has given her a sense of control that she never had before," Siddiqui said. "She knows when you touch it, something is supposed to happen. She knows she doesn't need to cry, she needs to point."

Soon, she learned to speak from the iPad. She could say short sentences and use the iPad to point her parents to what she wanted.

Statistically, iPad apps have been more and more for helping than they have been for entertaining. If you search “Autism” in the app store, over 700 hits will pop up. 700 apps for people with mental disabilities, over a course of just three years? Now that’s progress.

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