Wednesday, June 27, 2012

iPad Rage

As my friends know, I love iPads and love using them as one of my tools during speech therapy sessions.  They are great for joint attention, communication, motivation, sequencing steps, following directions, academic skills, and countless other uses.  Many of my blog entries are about specific iPad apps that have worked for me.

This summer, during my ESY experience, however, I've encountered a problem---a couple of children new to me must have had virtually unlimited unsupervised access to iPads, developing what I term 'IPad Rage'.  These children see me (a new person to them) with my iPad triggering this sequence of events----

1. I am sitting with a child, starting to open my preferred app to use in therapy
2.  Child says (screams) "IPAD!!!"
3.  Child lunges toward it.
4. Child attempts to yank it out of my hands. (I move it out of reach.)
5. Child flails, hits, or continues to yank.
6.  I put the iPad up high on the nearest shelf.
7. Child attempts to climb cabinets to get it.
8.  I attempt to stop child from climbing
9. Child attempts to bite me.
10.  I take iPad out of the room and hide it.  End of struggle--but unfortunately at least for the next few weeks, no iPad will be used during speech with this particular child.

My colleagues and I have conducted a few presentations with teachers and parents about appropriate iPad use in both schools and in the homes.  Our main point has been if an iPad is to be used as an educational tool, it is one part of a triangle; the other parts being the child and the adult.  An iPad is a tool to help facilitate skills----The iPad doesn't teach; the adults teach using the iPad.  Otherwise, a child, when left to his own devices, will learn that the iPad is another way to disengage with the outside world.

If any of you readers out there have thoughts about this, feel free to comment.  I continue to love iPads and find them to be wonderful tools in therapy.


  1. Ruth, I absolutely love your diagram as a model. IPads can be used with tremendous efficacy in therapy or education, however there must be applied clinical or educational reasoning. Otherwise the iPad becomes a fancy toy, or a replacement of the television set.

  2. Love this. Especially " An iPad is a tool to help facilitate skills----The iPad doesn't teach; the adults teach using the iPad. "

  3. Haha..I thought I was the only one with these kinds of kids. I like your triangle. I might use it if you don't mind. I have been having multiple conversations lately with parents who want an iPad for AAC but they also want all the apps, I work with preschool and they just don't have the capacity to understand communicate with it now, toy later, communicate, toy, etc. that kind of reasoning comes much later...especially when all the parents do is allow full access to phones, iPads, etc YouTube, as fun and games.

  4. I totally agree. The only caveat I would add is that if it is used primarily as an AAC device then the child/adult should have unlimited access. I have only seen that in one kid, I think it is quite rare. I have at times given total control over to Ben of his ipad, but it counts as "screen time" particularly since in his case he's on youtube (which is another reason why ipad time should be supervised, at the very least).

  5. Great post and I love the triangle model- terrific idea that I will be sure to share with reference to your blog...

  6. When we first got an iPad for our non-verbal son, it was with the hope that he would eventually be able to use it for communication. It became immediately obvious that he loved to play with it and would play rather than speak. So we bought a second iPad, a mini, put it in a totally different case, installed only one app--the voice app--on it, put it in Guided Access mode, and he's never seen that device as anything but his voice. It works wonderfully, and we can talk about what he is doing on the other iPad when he is allowed to play on it. His "Talker" goes everywhere with him, even the pool and the bath.

    1. That's a great strategy for those kids who need an iPad for communication. Personally, in a school setting and at home, I would treat iPad game time the same as 'screen time' and limit the use. In a school setting, the iPad needs to be part of the communication triangle and have an adult present.