Christy Steffen Leave the Chalk Behind

An iPad Brings out the Best in a Student with Autism

Fourteen months ago I was given an iPad by my director. His only request was that I have students use it. I downloaded several apps and tinkered with it over Christmas break. At the time I had a freshman girl with autism who was using the equivalent of a portable type writer to type all assignments and notes. Her handwriting was only legible to a select few. This electronic device was better than nothing but it was bulky, required a flash drive, and wasn’t useful in math in the least. Then I found the perfect app, smartNote. This app allows you to write or type directly on pdf documents.

I had to convince the student’s teachers that the iPad was not going to be a distraction and that it was going to make life easier for everyone. It didn’t take long to win over the teachers. The student was able to type text in worksheets making grading her work much easier. Diagrams and numbers in math and science were easier to read because the student could enlarge the page to have room for her large script.  All work was emailed directly to the assigning teacher the minute it was completed.

An iPad is too powerful to just use for note taking and worksheets. She also uses an app to keep track of due dates for assignments and tests. She creates flash cards to study concepts and vocabulary. She also reads books and practices her English and math skills with other apps. Her anxiety has reduced tremendously because she can email me her concerns and I can respond immediately. It has replaced her calculator, books, notebooks, and assignment book.

This student has gained an amazing amount of confidence in her own ability and readily advocates for herself. She no longer has to translate her written work to the teacher. She is taking chemistry and Algebra 2 as a sophomore. Even with this rigorous schedule, she earned all A’s and B’s last semester. The Ipad has changed this student’s educational life.

2 Thoughts on “An iPad Brings out the Best in a Student with Autism

  1. Jennifer Wiese on March 12, 2012 at 7:26 pm said:

    I’d really like (my son) to learn this – it could be such a powerful tool for him. I know you have talked to us about the benefits of the iPad- August is resistant- but, I’m going to work on him and encourage him to learn some of the benefits of iPad technology. He should learn from you since you are such a techie!

    • admin on March 12, 2012 at 9:09 pm said:

      I cannot wait until we are one-to-one. When all students have technology, my students with special needs won’t feel different! He is resistant because he wants to “blend in.”

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