A couple weeks ago we bought an Apple iPad for our autistic son. No, we couldn't afford it. We knew we couldn't afford it. But after reading another article on how the iPad helped a Redwood City boy with autism, we were pumped up about it. So we had a talk about it and pretty soon after that we started asking family and friends to donate toward the purchase. This article wasn't the first one we had read. There have been others both before and after. And I'm well aware of the many apps designed to help kids with autism. I have an iPod Touch and I've seen first-hand the impact it has on my son.
Initially, we were thinking that it would be great if we could just collect enough money to get him the bottom of the line model. Heck, that one is plenty expensive and we had doubts that we'd be able to raise enough money for that one. And asking for money isn't a fun thing to do. The Nurnberg family is not a non-profit. Donations to us are not tax deductible. Any money relatives gave us would be completely from the heart. We're just a family dealing with autism.
Once we got to asking, more than one person asked us why we didn't just contact Apple directly, explain our situation, and ask for an iPad. Trust me - EVERYTHING we've gotten for our son to this point, be it educational or not, we've had to go through that process. That process involves a lot of explaining, a lot of proving things, and a lot of time. There's a lot of meetings, paperwork, and evaluations in our life already. And, half the time, it ends up being a waste of time. Frankly, we're tired of that process. Apple doesn't give iPad's to individuals. They give to organizations and they need lots of PR to show the world how good they are. We're not an organization and we don't do PR. My son, Braden, is just another face to Apple. But, fortunately, to family he's more than that.
Asking for money, even from relatives we know and love, is a very humbling experience. It's like admitting that we can't do it on our own. We're at your mercy. (When I say 'family' or 'relatives' I include friends in that group too. Our friends are like family to us. In fact, some of our friends are more like family than some of the real family!) Some people were more generous than we expected. Some said they'd donate, but didn't. Others just ignored our request for a donation. We love them all the same though. We understand that it can be hard to say 'no'. Those family members that didn't donate toward the cause are still loved from the heart, and I say that sincerely.
iPad's range from $500 to about $830. With the accessories, such as a protective case/skin, auto charger, A/V cable, etc, plus tax, the top-of-the-line iPad is easily over $1k. But, we soon realized that we'd be able to get our son the most pricey model. What a blessing! There are some important benefits to getting the top-of-the-line model. The main thing we were concerned about was the storage space. Those extra gigabytes meant that we could load our son's DVD movies onto the iPad without worrying about hogging up space. So, not only could we get all the apps that would help him (and entertain him) we could load it with movies and TV shows. This Apple device takes the place of several other devices. It's an all-in-one. It replaces a gaming unit, a portable DVD player, a computer, and old fashioned pen and paper. It probably replaces other things as well.
Once we realized that we would have enough money, we bought the iPad... before we actually had all the money. That was a mistake because when we continued to ask family for money it became awkward to say the least. When they asked, we didn't want to lie. I can imagine some were thinking, "If they already have the iPad, what do they need money for?" Well, yes we had it already, but we couldn't afford it. It was a mistake to buy it ahead of time and it was also arrogant on our part. Chalk that one up to stupidity. But, in the end, we got nearly all the money we needed before we simply tired of asking. We didn't even ask everyone in the family.
Since purchasing an iPod Touch, and then my son's iPad, I began to really scrutinize and review apps that can help people with autism. Technology is my forte in the first place. I continue to do local trainings on Apple apps that can help children with autism since I work for a small non-profit that helps families of children with disabilities. In August I also contracted to speak at a national conference on the subject. I have yet to hear of another person who owns and uses so many of these 'autism apps' on a first-hand basis with their child. Many people have seen them and read about them, but few have actually used so many of them. Heck, the only reason I have been able to use them is because AutismEpicenter.com ranks highly with the search engines, especially when you type in 'autism apps'. Due to that, most developers have given me their apps to review.
If you have a child with autism you'd be smart to at least check out the iPad. This advice is coming from another parent. No, I don't get any kick back if you purchase the device and I don't own stock in Apple, but maybe I should!
By-the-way, we shot 30 minutes of video when we first presented Braden with the iPad. I edited the footage, cut it down to 6 minutes, and posted it on our YouTube Channel.
I'm finding the possibilities extremely exciting! I find even my little elegant ipod touch virtually magical - any time anywhere I can play a little video of my cat purring on my lap or my grandson smiling at me. And that barely scratches the surface of what these devices can do...
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