iPad Program update and thank you again to RMHC!

June 13, 2018

It was a little over 8 years ago now that “E”, a student in one of the two school-age classrooms at that time, received an iPad for a holiday gift from his grandparents.

“E”‘s parents sent it to school with him and asked us to probe using it with him.  Probing was successful, and we went on to using it with him for the rest of that year, and the next, until he graduated and moved on to his next setting. While his progress with PECS had been adequate, with the iPad we were able to use highly interesting materials for him, and his attending was improved. We gradually added on other goals as well; for example, we worked with him on labeling actions, labeling people in his classroom and at home, labeling emotions, labeling objects, identifying letters and numbers, greeting others, and performing calendar and weather skills at Morning Meeting. While communication skills certainly were our initial priority, other important skills were soon addressed using his iPad.

In addition to using the iPad with “E” that year, his parents generously granted permission, so that the speech therapists used his iPad on many occasions, borrowing it for sessions with other students, to probe their response to working with it, addressing their individual needs. The field was turning up other benefits of using an iPad, and plenty of our parents were interested, but not sure about making the expensive purchase without trying it out yet. They were able to try it out with them because of “E” and his iPad.

You have to remember that this was when iPads were not commonly used by everyone, let alone as communication devices. Back then several other assistive devices were used for teaching communication with, and although helpful on the forefront of helping students expressively, they also came with some challenges such as being easy to damage, expensive to acquire and repair, and cumbersome for students to carry and use. When iPads came out, they brought a whole host of solutions to instruction and ease for teachers, parents, therapists and students.

At Crossroads, the use of iPads grew from “E” to other students. In 2012 we applied for a grant from the Doug Flutie Foundation for Autism, which we won early in 2013, allowing us to put an iPad in all of the classrooms at that time. The team, including the classroom teacher and teaching assistants and the therapists working with those students, used that classroom’s iPad and logged usage, goals and progress for a full year in order to show the benefits. There were many.

Over the following few years, grant funding and private donations expanded the program. iPads were gradually assigned to the OT department, the School Psychologist and Speech Department, and 2 new classrooms. Many new apps were being developed and staff here were finding many new ways to motivate students and make progress on their goals.

Just last summer, 2017, Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) blew us away by not only approving our grant request to them, but by a gift that doubled the funding we asked for, in case our other requests out to other grantors didn’t get approved. They weren’t, and RMHC became our sole partner for our 2018-19 school year iPad program. With their grant, we were able to purchase 8 new iPads, strong cases and new applications for the classrooms and therapy areas for the children. With two new classrooms being built, and therapists throughout the school and clinic requiring iPads throughout the day, this funding could not have been more helpful. As we’ve grown, our needs have grown as well. RMHC stepped up to help us in a big way this past year.

Grant News!

We’re LOVIN’ it!

To date, all of the classrooms and therapy areas at Crossroads have at least one iPad, with two assigned to O.T. and one to each Speech Therapist. The Clinic has one and the Center BCBAs have one to share. The Prologue2Go application, which is a perfect match for the needs of many of our students acquiring communication systems, is loaded on the iPads, and the therapists and teachers use it to teach children to say “yes” and “no”, to label things they need or want, to give a greeting, and to communicate functional needs. As well, many other apps that are used to work on the many individualized goals that the students have, as well as themes, concepts and state standardized skills that are being addressed.

A great many skills are being taught using the iPad as a tool, including academic and conceptual skills, speech and language skills, OT and PT skills, social and functional skills. Students are able to touch a small screen in their one-to-one sessions, to select a picture requested by the therapist, to imitate and model from a video, to see and hear a variety of stimuli presented, without a cumbersome and overwhelming multitude of papers, cards, or items to distract them. iPads serve as reinforcers for some students too, with games and videos that are highly motivating and age appropriate. The iPad program is truly an integral part of the day across the school. Here are some pictures to share that show them in use. We hope you enjoy them!

 

Learning in groupsA grant from KeyBank Foundation will help Crossroads update technology needs!