Give kids a voice: iPads for Autism

by Autism Pensacola, Incorporated
Micah loves to draw on his iPad!
Micah loves to draw on his iPad!

As CEO of Autism Pensacola, I see many parents of children with autism every day.  Often their child is with them. One thing that has changed over the past few years is how often that child has an iPad with them when they stop by our office.  Parents rely on iPads to engage children who would otherwise make it impossible to run errands or to sit through a training. Children are able to work on learning apps they think are fun games, watch favorite movies and even create artwork on their iPads. Some do use them as communication devices but they are also much more. They are peace and quiet on a long car trip. They are something familiar and reliable on a chaotic day.  They are engaging learning tools.

Your support of Give kids a voice has provided iPads for 40 children over the past 4 years. Autism Pensacola has an application process to ensure the neediest families get these iPads-Families who would not have access to all the benefits of an iPad if it weren't for the generosity of donors like you.  Thank you for continuing to provide so much through this electronic device. Because of you, many families have more tools at their fingertips. Thank you for making a difference!

Learning about colors on an iPad is fun!!
Learning about colors on an iPad is fun!!
Video modeling at meals has been a huge help!
Video modeling at meals has been a huge help!

We received an iPad through Autism Pensacola's 'Give kids a Voice' project.  What a blessing it has been!

The iPad has been awesome for our busy little guy. He never sits still to watch TV, so the portability of the iPad has made it possible to sneak in small snippets of learning here and there. We're not quite to AAC level yet, but we're working on it as well as picture schedules and a ‘First & Then’ board. These last 2 things have helped so much with transitions and the anxiety G gets when he may not know or understand what is happening next or why he can't have what he wants Right Now.

The iPad has been great at school for downtimes like waiting for the bus--this time used to work him up into a frenzy--the aid would have to strap him in to his seat stiff as a board, purple-faced, kicking, screaming, biting & head-butting! Now they have found several educational apps that keep his focus, teach him important skills, and quiet his anxiety. Huge! My favorite has been the availability to use the Gemiini app with the iPad on the go. This app with short video modeling clips has really awakened new vocal sounds and spurred G to imitate things I never dreamed he even understood like riding a balance bike appropriately!

The ability to take all these tools anywhere with us in a small package has been tremendous. Thank you! I’m so very grateful to everyone who has made this possible!

Happy parent picks up iPad!
Happy parent picks up iPad!

This Christmas, Autism Pensacola was able to support 5 families who recieved iPads because of your generosity to 'Give Kids a Voice'.  Thank you for making our work possible.  These smiles would not happen with out your support.

'Seeing my son's face when he saw his iPad on Christmas morning was priceless', said Jose C., who took our PEP class in the fall.  'He has been using it everyday and we are seeing so much progress. I'm so very grateful.', he continued.

Additionally, Autism Pensacola was able to purchase an app for a child who already had an iPad.  Autumn contacted us because her husband's insurance was no longer going to cover her son's ABA therapy.  He had just begun making progress using an iPad and his therapist felt he could learn to communicate if he had an app he could use.  'I'm so grateful to have this app for my son. At this time when he is losing access to his important therapy, this gives us hope we can continue to help him progress.', said Autumn, also a PEP graduate.

In March, we will have our next PEP class.  With your help, we will be able to continue to offer kids a voice though iPads for Autism!  Thank you for your support!

Happy to give my son an iPad for the Holidays!
Happy to give my son an iPad for the Holidays!


Aiden using his iPad mini at home
Aiden using his iPad mini at home

Because of your generous support, 34 children have now recieved an iPad to give them a voice!  This past summer 2 families whose children did not have access to an iPad were presented with their 'voice'.  In addition, apps that help with communication were granted to several families who had iPads but could not afford the expensive program to use the iPad for communication. The note below gives you a great summary of the power of your gift through GlobalGiving to iPads for Autism!

From the heart of a grateful mom:

We were selected to receive an IPad Mini this summer from Autism Pensacola's 'Give Kids a Voice' program. Our son Aiden is 10 years old and non-verbal. He was using an AAC device(to produce speech) that, for him, was bulky and heavy for him to realistically carry around, even with a strap. The Ipad Mini along with the Proloquo2Go app have allowed him to carry the IPad with ease to use as an ACC Device (talker) for him all day. What a difference it makes!  

The IPad Mini has a guided access option which helps deter him from using the IPad for recreational use when needed, especially when he takes it to school. The professionals (teachers, aides, and\/or therapists) who work with him at his school have learned to program his IPad to gear it towards words or items that he uses in school. It is easy to take pictures with the camera and upload them to the App. Aiden visually discriminates real pictures better than the cartoon type pictures. He is able to ask for what he wants with the IPad Mini and app. He has a communication page for home or after school setting which is often different than his school setting. For school, he requests his preferred item(s), drink (water bottle), lunch choices, teacher or aide, bathroom and/or places he utilizes at school. His teachers are thrilled to see him using his 'voice' so much more. At home, we have pictures of our bathroom, his preferred toys, foods, and daily utilized items at home, and recently we programmed his app on the IPad to say Trick or Treat for the Halloween events he attended. What a joy it was to see him participate this way!

The ability of the app with the IPad mini provided to us allows us to model his choices if he is not fluent in them yet and in different settings if he doesn't initialize independently. It is good practice for him and gives him a voice!  Thank you for being a part of this HUGE difference in my son's life!

Hugs from a proud teacher
Hugs from a proud teacher
'The iPad keeps my daughter engaged and learning.'

Summer is sizzling here in Pensacola! Like the past 9 summers, many of our kids are busy and learning at our Summer Learning Lab. This summer, in response to the needs of many of our children, we are happy to announce that Give Kids a Voice has expanded. At our Summer Learning Lab Camp, we have realized that some families have an iPad, provided by another program or perhaps a generous grandparent. Other families save and save to purchase the iPad, only to discover they don't have the funds needed for apps that will support communication.

As a result of this need, Autism Pensacola recently expanded our program to offer support for families recommended by our Summer Learning Lab staff who were in need of either an iPad for communication or a communication app to go on a device they already own. All families were required to have individualized training to ensure they understood how to use the iPad for communication.  This usually means blocking other uses of the device, at least until the child understands the value of the communication tool.  We have just awarded 2 new iPads as well as provided 5 families with communications apps and training on their use.

"We are ecstatic to receive this app for our children" state Angela O., mother of two children on the autism spectrum as well as a new baby.  "Both our children need to work on conversation skills. We've tried the free communication apps, but they don't provide the tools we need.  We plan to have their teachers help with the ProLoQuo App and are confident we will see a burst of communication.  Thank you, Autism Pensacola and Global Giving donors, for providing this opportunity!"

Autumn W. is so excited to add a communication app to the iPad she already received after taking our Parent Empowerment Program.  "I know this is going to be the tool that truly makes the iPad our son's voice. We are so grateful!"

We are looking forward to sharing even more success stories in the next few months as these families put these tools to use. Thank you for your support of 'Give Kids a Voice'! You are the reason these families have so much hope this summer!

Your gift makes it possible. Thank you.
Your gift makes it possible. Thank you.

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Organization Information

Autism Pensacola, Incorporated

Location: Pensacola, FLORIDA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Susan Byram
Pensacola, Florida United States

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