About that iPad

Charlie got an iPad for his third birthday. Family and friends bought him iTunes gift cards and we were able to purchase Proloquo2Go for about twenty dollars out of pocket (thank you, friends and family!). We fooled around with it, but Charlie was disinterested, and I was a more than a little disheartened. I see the things that Caleigh was doing with the iPad immediately and I wanted THAT. The truth, however, is that Charlie is not academically inclined. He likes music and computer, but has no interest in books (sob), or answering mommy’s  questions. He wants to crawl and play and explore. He likes people. He likes shopping and going out to eat. Basically, he’s me, but smaller. Lord help us.

So the iPad gathered dust for quite a while. We brought it out in September and began playing with it again. Charlie still hated the communication app, so we used the game apps, story apps (slightly more tolerable than actual books), music videos, and of course, the iPod function.

Charlie quickly mastered the music video section although he did so mostly by banging his entire hand. After seeing that, we started messing around withe iPod function while holding his hand. Before we knew it, Charlie was able to scroll through albums to pick a song. He could make selection, change his mind, and exit out of certain screen. He’s better at it than any of his grandparents.


Point pointing finger at camera

Concentrating very hard at getting point finger out

So while not an academic by any means, Charlie is showing us that he gets things when he wants to. He’s capable of taking multiple steps to get where he wants to, and he can use pictures to make meaningful choices. These are good things. I do occasionally get him to use the communication app, and he’s always right on the money when I ask him questions. It’s clear to me that he understand a lot even though he’s not able to talk. Maybe one day he’ll want to say something bad enough that he’ll be forced to use the communication app. Who knows.

As an added bonus, he’s now very demonstrative about asking for help–even when it’s not the iPad. He’s also doing a bang-up job of getting his pointer finger out and using it although he would much prefer if you help him. These are baby steps, but I’ll take them.

Boy making sign for I love you

Trying to get pointer isolated, but ending up like a surfer dude instead

Below is a video of Charlie and his Dad using the iPad–Dad holds back his fingers so he can easily point. It’s hard to tell, but all of the movements are Charlie’s except for the “big tap,” because that’s a little too strong a movement for him at this point.

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  1. That bottom picture? He looks like he’s doing the ASL sign for “I love you.”
    That kid is a rockstar.

  2. Ha! I thought he was signing “I love you” too! Are you sure he isn’t? I didn’t know Stephen was doing it until I found out a few weeks after he started that he’d learned the sign at Mother’s day Out. I thought he was doing a rockin’ “Hook ‘Em!”

    Charlie will get the hang of the P2G. It’s taking Stephen a while too, but he’s pretty good about answering questions now – and he’s older.

  3. Not everyone can use the same stuff. Maybe he’ll be more interested in six months or so.

    He may have trouble with the iPad but he does better than me. My dad gave me his iPhone to send an email and it was HORRIBLE.

  4. This is great, he’s making lots of progress, that’s for sure! :)

  5. Kids will be kids and do what they want…. little buggers. I love how the kids just “get” how to work the apple products. Glad Charlie is making more progress.

  6. The first photo… “You! Talkin’ to me!” or “I will make you an offer you can’t refuse.”

    second… totally signin’ I love you!!

    And there’s nothing wrong with shoppin’ and eatin’ out and a little you.

    • Thanks, Nadine. I like your interpretation of that first picture. I think it kind of looks like he’s in the middle of a stick-up or something.

  7. Go Charlie! Love the video. Great to see him in action!! :-)

  8. Charlie is doing such a great job! Look at that pointer, he’s great at keeping it isolated.

    I think I’ve told you this before, but someone once told me that boys are all about the moving and girls are all about the talking. Disability or not, that’s the way it is.

    Keep up the good work!

    • You know, Holly, that makes a lot of sense to me. Despite Charlie’s disabilities, he loves to roll and crawl and go places. I think he understands a lot about what’s going on, but doesn’t really feel the need to “talk” that much. Heck, his Dad is 31 and he doesn’t talk all that much.

  9. Awww he’s so adorable! I think he’s signing that he loves you :)

  10. When kids learn to write, first they look at picture books, then they get crayons and squiggle for a couple years, then circles, the drawing inside the lines and then eventually, writing.

    Same with speech… Cooing, babbling, dadadadas, unintelligle words, semi-intelligeable words, one word, two words, and then a sentence!

    This takes years for most kids. Maybe this whole ipad thing has a progression to it too and like our little tykes do, they will find it on their own.

    We gave the little man a multitude of different apps – he loved some we didnt think he would, and hated those we paid money for (haha) but hes coming around. Next week, proloquo intro in his second language. Deep breath…

    • I like the idea of a progression–I do feel like he’s learning the ins and outs of the Pad more and more–even if he is ignoring the fancy communication app.

  11. We started with Tap to Talk. Pain in the butt to set up, but it meets Parker’s needs. P2G was way beyond his needs right now.

    Tammy and Parker

  12. I gotta say I buy-into the gender differences that Holly shared. At the same time he is obviously getting there. Did you see the pointer-device that Daniel uses? On a video a while back – I’m sure his Mom would answer questions about it.

    • I once tried the “idea” of a pointer device by having him try to tap with a pencil. The iPad didn’t like the pencil, but neither did Charlie. One thing I have always noticed about him–he wants to do things the way everyone else does–and he will work and work to get there. It’s stubborness, but it’s served him well.

  13. give it some time. when we first got Queen Teen’s iPad she almost seemed afraid of it. It took time for her to “get” it. We started looking at photos together, which was a great way for her to practice the mechanics of scrolling, tapping, enlarging, shrinking… then we started playing games and watching videos. Now she enjoys looking at books. We thought about getting ProLoQuo to help with communication, but after trying it out at school we realized that it wasn’t the best choice for her needs. Instead we’re using a simple app called My Choice Board. We needed something that would help her understand what was going on (she’s deaf-blind and her sign language skills are just emerging). The program is easy to use and straight forward (and cheap). Perhaps it would be a good place to start with Charlie to help get the idea of using pictures for communication.

    • I think Charlie understands Proloquo–we’ve got it on a pretty basic setting–but I don’t think he thinks it’s “fun,” which is a problem for the boy who always likes to be doing something fun.

  14. That video of Charlie choosing songs= awesome.

  15. Here is a great place to find all different types of apps. It is on a special needs site — but the apps are all types and levels.


  16. Katy: that video is just awesome! I cannot believe he can do all that! So cool!

    • I know, Jaysey. I think anyone who has followed Charlie’s story from the beginning would be amazed at how well he’s doing–I know I am.

  17. Yeah Charlie! The iTot applications are great. They are all free flashcards that are engaging. A slight swipe will allow Charlie to do it by himself!!! You can also add your own pictures and sound!

    • He likes to swipe! So far I haven’t found any flashcard apps that I like–will have to check out the iTot app.

  18. Wow, that pointer finger work looks fantastic. Phia is just starting to use her pointer finger, but I don’t think she can isolate it in the air like that. Way to go, Charlie!

    • We really owe it all to the iPad–there’s nothing more motivating to Charlie than that electronic screen.

  19. Destiny says:

    That was awesome!! I was on the edge of my seat and I will have to try that out on Lexie when she is older.

    • You should. The iPad is such a great way for these kids to communicate–even if it’s not exactly how we imagined it would be.

  20. Good job, Charlie :)

    Some kids can’t stand books. I’d like to read with my niece, but she would rather spend the afternoon doing math!


    • I know! I think I have to accept that books aren’t his thing–even though it breaks my heart! Hubby isn’t that into books either.

  21. Awesome!!! The iPad was THE thing that encouraged Max to learn to use his pointer finger. Charlie will grow into using it; it’s awesome that he has this at such a young age.

  22. Miriam McClure says:

    I wanted to “like” SavannahB’s comment!!!! <3 Wish I could post my daughter doing Rockstar I Love You pose….it's soooo cute!

  23. allyslp says:

    another great communication app is verbal victor, you can add your own pictures and record what you would like for to say. just out of curiosity, has Charlie been introduced to PECS (picture exchange communication system)? That may be more rewarding to start out with tactile pictures he exchanges for what he is requesting, and he could transition to something electronic once he understands the power of communicating.

  24. Hi there. I stumbled upon your blog. I’m an assistive technology consultant. I think you should check out flick tunes! It’s an easy to use accessible app that requires simple movements on the whole screen, and plays your iTunes library. You can assign the movements you want – ie swipe right means change song. I think Charlie would like that!