Electronic devices & my autistic child

  My husband recently purchased an iPad for school. It was a very sound investment for us. This is a tool that will allow him to do his school work just about anywhere. After he got his iPad, he gave me his iPod Touch. Well not really for me, see PA (my daughter) decided it was hers. We have found there are so many applications out there to help with everything, from fine motor skills to speech therapy. They use some of these programs in her class at school on the iPad they have in the classroom. There are two classes that share this iPad and they are working to raise money for a second one. That way each classroom will have their own.

In theory this should have worked. My husband has his iPad & PA has her iPod, well, since they have an iPad in her classroom and her dad has one, she doesn’t want the Touch anymore. She wants the “BIG iPod”. My husband does have some applications on the iPad for her to use, but the main use is still for his school work. So when he takes it out to use for school, there ends up being some degree of anticipation on PA’s part. She has to wait till her dad is done using it. The conversation usually plays out like this.

PA: Daddy…me talk to you for a minute?
Dad: What sweetie?
PA: Me play wif big ipod? You almost done?
Dad: No. Not done yet. I will let you play when I am done.
PA: SIGH OK…
30 seconds later….
PA: Dad you done yet? When you done? I want play wif big iPod.
Dad: You have an iPod to play with. Use that for now.
PA: But dad…It’s so little. I like BIG iPod now.

That conversation will keep going as long as my husband has the iPad in view. I am still trying to find diversions for her. It is still very new as he has only had it for a week. We still have boundaries to work out with her. It takes a lot of time and energy on our part to set these boundaries. So when we bring new electronic devices into the house, PA is instantly attracted to it.

Now with setting new boundaries and rules, we have to be sure PA understands them, which has proven to be difficult in the past. For instance she has always loved to take all the DVD’s out of the bookshelf. We have always told her (well since she was old enough to do it anyway) not to take the DVD’s out. For some reason she just cannot help herself. There are some days she will get put on time out over and over all day long. She doesn’t understand cause and effect. She sees things and processes things differently. It’s hard for me to get her to really comprehend why these rules are in place. This is a learning process for all of us. Most kids have issues with this, but they learn boundaries & rules fairly fast. They still test boundaries and rules, but they understand them. I am not even sure PA understands which is making it even more difficult.

Along with boundaries of appropriate times to use different devices, then there are the rules for using them. One of PA’s favorite things to do with the Touch was to delete all of her dad’s applications, but not her own. This created many problems when he went to use an application and realized it wasn’t there. This usually happened at church or at scouts. Then he would spend an hour or more reloading applications he lost because she deleted them. He finally found the settings to make it so she couldn’t delete the programs anymore, which solved that problem.

The other thing that wasn’t such a big deal with the Touch was PA was able to use it pretty much whenever she wanted. It wasn’t as much a tool as the iPad is. It was (and is) used for entertainment mostly. So we did not need as many boundaries and rules with it. However, with the iPad we are realizing we need far more restrictions on it than with other electronic devices we have or have had in the past. My task for the next few weeks will be getting PA to learn and accept the rules and boundaries for the iPad. Wish me luck :o)

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