As a home-based Early Intervention provider traveling to various locations throughout New York City each day, I find my iPhone to be invaluable. It is quite possibly the best “business” expense of my career. It lurks in my bag as a secret weapon of motivation and reinforcement where once a gaggle of heavy and semi-effective toys resided.
With the huge presence that technology has in our lives today it is only inevitable that some gadgets make their way into therapeutic endeavors. While there are negative effects to being plugged in all of the time, it’s hard for me to ignore those moments where technology allows a child to learn something that had been previously difficult or the amazing instances of joint attention that can be facilitated by using these apps. Without a doubt, I’m sold on the fact that the new gadgets with touch screens will continue to be an invaluable tool moving forward in my work with children. However, I can’t silence the little contradictory voice in my head telling me that teaching happens in real life, not on a screen.
Therefore, I use my iPhone in therapy sessions with children sparingly. I am the one setting limits on usage and modeling durations of time that are reasonable and appropriate. Approximately 90% of the apps I use are educational and present great opportunities for the generalization of skills taught using DTT or NET methods. I have also downloaded social skills training videos that have facilitated preparation for things like going to get a haircut. Even though that tiny voice still lurks in the back of my head, the more I read and hear, I am beginning to think that the consensus of people in this community is mainly positive.
I am most excited about programs such as Proloquo2Go, which use the iPad as a more portable and user-friendly augmentative communication device. Not unlike the endless list of apps, the uses are never-ending as well, as outlined in a great article in the SF weekly from August 11, 2010. The iPad and various apps are helping therapists and parents teach children how to draw, write, communicate, read, spell, count, and increase independence through visual schedules.
Using technology hasn’t compromised what or how much I am able to teach. It has enhanced my sessions. How do you feel about it?