Using iPads to help kids communicate

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -  It can be tough for kids with special needs to communicate with their families and friends.

Speech Pathologist Ellen Holloway, who runs The Speech Garden Institute, thought iPads might help.

"I knew this device which is low cost, easy to program, portable and cool would have great impact on the augmented communication field," she said.

With help from NPower, a non-profit which connects other non-profits with technology assistance, Holloway was able to make her dream a reality.

"We were the middle-man connecting her with the resources and tools and technology and a corporate sponsor like Nouveon that she needed," said Kim Lanphear with NPower Charlotte Region.

Two families were given iPads to use with their children for two weeks.

With certain programs installed and apps downloaded the iPad has become a way for kids to read, speak and share what's on their minds using pictures.

This technology, says Holloway, is far less expensive that the standard equipment required for families who need assistance with speech augmentation.

For 13-year-old Victoria, who has had limited verbal skills for most of her life, it's been a game-changer.

"She ordered her first meal at McDonalds all by herself recently using the iPad.  She points to the pictures.  The clerk at the restaurant couldn't believe it," said Victoria's mom Karen.

"Vicky's results have been amazing.  She took to it instantly as if she had been waiting for someone to give her a voice and a way to communicate," Holloway added.

The hope is to share this eye-opening experience with more families.  For more information about the program, click here.

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