Last week, Scarlett received another special gift.
|She got her teeth on that box as soon as she could!|
Scarlett is the proud owner of an iPad, thanks to Children's Wish Foundation International. Most of the wish organizations, like Make-a-Wish, require children to be 2 and 1/2 or older, or able to describe their own wish. This makes sense - the wish should be for the child, not the parents. However, Children's Wish Foundation International has a special wish program for kids who are under 3 (or whose cognitive level is below 3) to provide stimulating toys, music, videos or games for them to enjoy. Our hospital social worker wanted Scarlett to get the chance to take advantage of this opportunity, so she passed the application on to us.
There were a variety of options, including a collection of books and a rocking chair, a collection movies and a dvd player, a collection of music and a stereo, or a family party, but there was also an Apple iPad. We had been looking into getting an iPad for Scarlett for a while, but it was way out of our budget.
Technology for kids with special needs has come a long way, especially since touch screens and apps were introduced. There are speech and language programs, occupational therapy and fine motor programs and plenty more. I have seen kids using iPads for visual assistance from a wheelchair, for overstimulation calming and plenty more. Living in the Silicon Valley, we see these types of technology all around us. Despite this, we have always been hesitant to "plug her in" to too much screen time. I'd always prefer to see her banging together blocks or chewing on a slinky (as she is as I write this) that staring at a screen. We use our phones to show her pictures or for minor emergency entertainment in waiting rooms, but never leave her to play on her onw (frankly, she'd prefer to chew the silicone case than watch anything.) However, Scarlett's teacher from the Center for Early Intervention on Deafness (CEID, where she attends class each week) was planning to bring one of the school's iPads to one of our home visits to see how Scarlett interacted with it. Then the CWFI opportunity came up, and we all thought it could be beneficial as she got older.
So, even though it seems pretty indulgent for her to have her "own" iPad, we wanted to take this opportunity while it was available. We asked our social worker to send it is ASAP in hopes we would have it ready in time for Scarlett's upcoming surgery, and CWFI was happy to help.
For the last few days, we have been working on setting it up for her use. First, we bought a sturdy rubber case from Target (by Phillips) and added a plastic screen protector to prevent too much drool damage. Then we investigated what apps to add. The speech therapist at CEID helped me find some that they use on the school's iPads, and now we have a pretty good variety, mostly all free.
- Scarlett's most favorite is Baby Touch Peekaboo by Ladybird (free - iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch)
- The Monster at the End of This Book by Sesame Street- an interactive version on the popular book (this was a free offer from Starbucks a few months ago; otherwise, $3.99 - iPad/ iPhone/iPod)
- Toy Story Interactive Storybook by Disney Digital Books (free - iPad)
- Curious George at the Zoo (free - iPad)
- I Hear Ewe - full of animals and vehicle sounds (and can upgrade for more)
- Meet the Colors ($0.99 - iPad)
- Animal Fun (free - iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch)
- Eric Carle's My Very First App - color matching (a little advanced for Scarlett) (free - Ipad/iPhone/iPod Touch)
- Heydooda! The Kitty Says Hello - (free - iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch)
- GarageBand - she likes to hear the different instruments and "play" piano (free - iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch)
- Magic Laptop Farm Animals (free - iPad)
- ABC Magnetic Alphabet Lite (free - iPad)
- The Story Mouse - fairy tales (free - iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch)
- Injini Child Development Suite Lite - great simple puzzles (free - iPad)
- Dora the Explorer ABCs - (still very advanced for her, but we got free through Starbucks - iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch)
There are so many, many apps. Some aimed at toddlers are completely developmentally inappropriate, but others can be engaging for their short attention spans. Many are expensive, so we are holding off until she is a little more advanced (unless we really like it). Scarlett's physical therapist also suggested checking out AutismApps for other special needs-focused apps organized by type. We'll keep the hunt going.
Finally, I wanted to get at least a few movies for her to watch while she was cooped up in the hospital. She will likely be immobilized for at least a few days, so I thought it might be more interesting to see and/or hear a movie. I thought I could easily get our previously-owned DVDs converted and onto the iPad, but it took more work than I expected. After a few hours of reading different forums and experimenting with the giant files for movies, I was able to get it done for free...somewhat illegally. It involved blocking the copyright and converting to MP4, then hours and hours of upload time. I'm not going to post how I did it here, but suffice it to say it can be done for free, and Finding Nemo is now available on her iPad. ;-)
We are very grateful for this tool, thanks to Children's Wish Foundation International. Scarlett still qualifies for other wish-granting organizations once she's a little older, and we're hoping she's able to ask for something that truly makes her happy.