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How an iPad Can Help a Child with Autism

Learn how an iPad can help a child with autism from pediatrician and child development expert Asma J. Sadiq, M.D. in this Howcast video.


So what is the place of using technology or something like the iPad and computers in children with an autism spectrum disorder? Well, we're using it for children anyway. It's a great tool, but there's a balance that's important. And for children with an autism spectrum disorder where language and communication is an issue, definitely there's a place for using technology. But to a point because, for example, something like the PECS system, which is the Picture Exchange Communication system, the iPad is great because, in fact, parents can even have it on the telephones and their Smartphones and use language or pictures for a child to communicate so there's less frustration and less meltdowns and actual communication back and forth.

However, the danger with iPad and computers and any technology is the overuse of it and it being a substitute for social engagement. You know, technology should not be used as babysitting and there is a perseverative, repetitive aspect that we see when children with autism spectrum that this can feed and they can rigid and stuck on it. In fact, a little obsessive about it and have meltdowns when technology is taken away from them.

So, it is a use, it has to be done carefully, and there are many wonderful games and software and learning and music and teaching tools that are available on computer and the iPad or the iPhone, for example, but it really should not be a substitute and it should not be overused.

Technology, computers, television screen time is not recommended before two years of age. You know, sitting in front of screens is really not beneficial and the American Academy has got a limit of two hours of screen time for children older than two years of age.

I would be very careful in doing it on a gradient. I would rather work with other modalities which engage people. And even if you use an iPad, it's yourself and another adult being involved as this just being a tool and not something the child is doing repeatedly by themselves.

Yes, they have a fascination and they be very good at it because it is 2-dimensional and it is very linear and structured and gives them the kind of information that children tend to have a tendency to collect, which is information, concrete data. The colors, the lights, the movement is all stimulating, but there has to be the balance and it is not a therapeutic modality, it is something that can be used in the therapeutic modality like with speech therapy or with behavior therapy and music. And the people are using music on the iPad and that, I think, is fine, but I really believe that there is a place for it and it has to be done with balance and responsibility.

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