Thursday, September 29, 2011

iTherapy - Emerging Autism Therapy

Technology for the most part serves for the betterment of society. In the realm of education, technology has become an integral part of the system. Educators from all over the nation are using technology in their repertoire to enhance classroom learning. Among the many benefits is greater access to education for everyone, but in particular technological advancements have opened education more than ever to learners with disabilities like autism spectrum disorders.

iTherapy capitalizes on the latest technologies available from Apple like the iPad, iTouch and the iPhone. iTherapy at its core means, the use of an Apple product in combination with an app (computer application) in a therapy environment as a modality to meet goals implemented by an IEP team.

Software (apps) for any of the Apple products is readily available from the app store located within the iTunes website. Currently there is about two hundred thousand apps with more added on a daily basis. Some of the programs I've used with success include: Model Me Going Places, First Words: Deluxe, First Words: Animals, iSpeak and proloquo2-Go to name a few. You can use these apps individually or combine them to achieve a set goal. Whether you are using voice output, building vocabulary, correcting articulation or strengthening muscle coordination, any of these devices make it easier, more fun and reinforcing.

In addition, learning goes on long after the therapy session has ended. Unlike other computer based therapies, they can take their Apple product wherever they go thus allowing them to engage in learning whenever the opportunity presents itself. Not to mention their apple product can hold music and movies. Alas, they too can be cool!

Prior to this technology, individuals with limited communication ability were forced to use devices specifically design for individuals with cerebral palsy. These devices are heavy, cumbersome and very expensive, in the range of $5,000-$10,000. Most of these devices have voice outputs that are robotic in nature-lets just say they tend to end up as door stops.

In short, when you combine apple's hardware with software like proloquo2-Go or First Words: Deluxe. The result is ACC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) that is powerful, portable, desirable yet affordable. Set this in a therapy environment with a focus on predetermined goals designed by an IEP team and you get iTherapy-an effective learning strategy.

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