With many years of experience as a qualified Occupational Therapist, specialising in rehabilitation of both adults and children following accidents, my thoughts take me back to how we utilised a wide range of everyday activities and adapted them to address individual rehabilitation programmes. For someone with a physical injury we would place activities on a wall, high table or floor to encourage the patient to reach, bend, balance, stretch or increase strength /stamina. We would choose activities to encourage hand-hand and hand-eye coordination, to improve grip, dexterity or adapt to new ways of doing things. For those with acquired brain injury we could find any amount of activities to increase memory, concentration, communication, behaviour, attention etc. These were sometimes all very ‘Blue Peter’ in look and feel, but effective never-the-less.
We did jump on the band-wagon with BBC computers when they first came out but the time and effort needed to set up a patient in the correct position, with the right software, was sometimes way out of proportion to the benefits derived from using this new technology.
Thank goodness for the iPad! It has such potential to engage, motivate, distract and is a great tool to assist teaching and learning in the classroom as well as at home. I do cringe when I see the price of some specialised Apps for children with special needs but quite possibly the Apps are still cheaper than alternative devices such as communication tools. Not only can the content be useful but also the physical placing of the device to encourage or motivate users to stand, balance, stretch, flex or bend etc. can work well.
Search the internet and you will find a lot of anecdotal evidence from parents and teachers that iPads can aid learning etc. It may not be a useful or appropriate device for everyone, but if we think creatively, as we used to do, we can find huge potential for children with special needs.
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