The iPad is extremely popular with children. It is fun and engaging with the added bonus of being portable and easily accessible. For children with special needs, it can open up many opportunities. It can be a great educational and therapeutic tool, leisure device or means of communication. Below are some tips to enhance your child’s interaction with the iPad.
IDENTIFY ITS PURPOSE
How does your child use the iPad? Academics? Leisure? Communication? If your child uses the iPad for academics or leisure, be sure to monitor his/her screen time and set reasonable limits. If your child uses the iPad as a communication device, it is important that the device is used solely for communication. If the iPad is used for leisure as well, it may be confusing for your child. When using the iPad as a communication device, utilize the Guided Access feature to keep the communication application open and to prevent your child from accessing other apps at an inappropriate time. To set Guided Access, go to Settings, select General, select Accessibility and then select Guided Access. To start Guided Access, open the app you want to use, Triple-click the Home button and then tap Start.
LIMIT SCREEN TIME
For some children, electronic devices can be over stimulating. Observe your child’s behavior as he/she plays on the iPad and determine how long he/she can appropriately interact with the device. The time will vary for each child. Use a visual support, such as a timer to help your child manage his/her time. If your child becomes over-stimulated prior to the timer going off, remove the device and allow him/her time to regulate. Some children will be able to return to playing with the iPad while others will require a change in activity. If your child uses the iPad as a communication device, it is his/her voice and usage should NOT be limited.
ALWAYS PROVIDE SUPERVISION
Like any other toy, the iPad should be used under the supervision of an adult. By interacting with your child as he/she plays, you will be able to determine how your child uses the iPad and the length of time it is used appropriately. Furthermore, by supervising your child’s interaction, you can decrease the odds something happening accidently.
DISABLE INSTALLING AND DELETING APPS AND IN APP PURCHASES
By turning on this feature, it will prevent your child from purchasing unwanted apps or features within apps and deleting apps by mistake. If your child uses the iPad as a communication device, it is extremely important to turn this feature on. To set installing/deleting apps, go to Settings, select General, select Restrictions, select Installing/Deleting Apps and then slide the tab to the off setting. To set in-app purchases, go to Settings, select General, select Restrictions, select In-App Purchases and then slide the tab to the off setting.
Use the iPad as a tool to facilitate interaction and communication. Take turns while playing with different apps and games. Use the camera to imitate silly faces or to play a game of I Spy where instead of verbalizing your guess, you take pictures! If your child has difficulty taking turns, play with an unfamiliar app where he/she will have to look to you for guidance and assistance. Furthermore, if your child begins to exhibit self-stimulatory behaviors, immediately interrupt and take your turn.
PURCHASE A PROTECTIVE CASE
The iPad is extremely fragile and to protect it from unexpected bumps and/or drops, invest in a durable case. There are a variety of durable cases on the market. Some have handles, others have straps, but they all provide an added layer of protection. Check out the link for the Friendship Circle’s website below to determine which case is right for your child.
Gillman, D. (2015, December). 20 Genius iPad Tips & Hacks for a Child with Special Needs. Retrieved April 19, 2016, from Birdhouse Blog website: http://blog.birdhousehq.com/20-great-hacks-tips-and-tricks-to-childproof-an-ipad-or-ipod/
Morin, A. (2016, May). How Much Should You Limit Your Kids’ Electronics? Retrieved July 28, 2016, from Very Well website: https://www.verywell.com/american-academy-pediatrics-screen-time-guidelines-1094883
Vail, T. (2011, November). Is Your Child Getting Stuck On Electronics? Retrieved July 1, 2015, from Let’s Talk website: http://www.letstalksls.com/blog/archive/11-2011/your-child-getting-stuck-electronics
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