Seems like people are finding some unexpected uses for iPads as of late. Most people stick to traditional uses like reading books, checking emails and the like. Some people have dropped them from near-space. Some people studied their face-smack impact. Some people just chucked them into lava. While those uses are novel and creative, iPads may have found their most meaningful purpose yet: helping children with communication and movement disabilities.
According to a document from JD Supra, iPads and other tablet computers are being utilized to assist children with congenital disorders such as cerebral palsy. The report says that "there are now approximately 40,000 apps created for people with disabilities, helping to revolutionize the lives of those with special needs and the parents, therapists and teachers who help them."
What makes tablets like the iPad so accessible for people with neurological disorders is the touch screen technology. For anyone with any kind of limited motor skills, being able to navigate a computer without having to operate a secondary device like a mouse and keyboard is a great liberty. “Touch has made it exceptionally accessible — everyone has an iPad…,” said Michelle Diament, cofounder of the disability news website Disability Scoop. “If you’re someone with a disability, having something that other people are using makes you feel like part of the in-crowd.”
That's actually a really good point by Diament. There's a lot of psychological value for children (and adults, too) not to be isolated and encumbered by awkward looking communication devices that essentially label them as Other by society. Some may cope with the social difference better than others, but let's be frank - most people are jerks and can't hide their askance glance when they see someone who isn't like them. Employing "cool" apparati like iPads not only help a patient communicate but also help break down any stigmas society may reserve for them.
JD Supra's report goes on to describe one example in which an iPad enabled a child with cerebral palsy:
Noah Rahman is a three-year-old cerebral palsy patient whose fine motor skills have significantly developed since he began working with the iPad.
When Noah was two, his language, cognitive ability and fine motor skills were determined to be at least 12 months behind his peers. Since receiving the iPad Noah’s parents have seen a huge jump in his language and cognition and now say he is on par with his peers.
Mark one more in the win column for science and technology.