An Apple for a Teacher
Kudos: Having been an Apple fan for a few years now, I have come to appreciate the iPad as a possible device for my father to use ["iHelp for Autism," Ashley Harrell, Feature, 8/11]. He's not very savvy with computers, and the simplified interface and portability seem to fit him. However, I never had considered it a learning tool for the challenged.
As a father of a 9-year-old with ADHD Combined-Type and Asperger's syndrome, as well as a 4-year-old with high-functioning autism, I am completely amazed and overjoyed at the success children are having with this type of technique. I believe that anything we can do as parents to stimulate our children to communicate effectively is worthwhile, no matter the cost or inconvenience. I applaud the developers of the various applications written to help these children. Obviously they were written either out of a burden to help these children, or due to personal experience with an autistic child.
I thank Apple for providing an entire medium of communication and learning for my children, and for allowing these types of programs to connect with users of all types. I also want to thank SF Weekly for publishing this story.
Testimony: I could not agree more with putting this type of visual communication aid into the hands of autistic children. My daughter (diagnosed just prior to her second birthday as autistic) has been exposed to or has used a Mac since she was born. She took to it naturally, and began writing and drawing on it by age 3. She has benefited from almost 20 years of therapy. On that journey, her computer skills (in conjunction with her ability to draw) have proven themselves an excellent vehicle for focusing her thoughts.
Her achievement was crowned this year when she was honored by having a drawing used as one of the official Tenderloin district's banners in the "Heart of the City" project by the North of Market Area Tenderloin Business Community. Her bright yellow banners will adorn the streets and light poles of the Tenderloin for at least the rest of the summer.
Doubts: This sounds like a commercial for the iPad. Essentially anything can teach a kid reading and spelling. Is it really that great? Can it treat autism, as this article very much implied — or "help" the kid learn? We can do research on that, and I don't think that's necessary, for the iPad is definitely not God's gift, or anything close to magical — it can't even open Flash videos. Other than being good for reading an e-book or playing games (which, of course, you don't need an iPad for), it's just a piece of junk that will take up space for those who already have a computer.
Snitch Blog Comment ofthe Week
In response to a blog post about the S.F. Green Party opposing biodiesel for not being eco-friendly: Blanket statements like "All biofuels are bad" are equivalent to saying "All Green Party members are vegan extremists" — they just aren't true. You have to look at the gallon, not the industry. We don't have a perfect alternative for fossil fuels today, but unless we move forward and develop alternatives, we will never escape from the monopoly of Big Petroleum. By not supporting community-based biodiesel alternatives, we support the status quo. As for the animal "waste," would you really rather see the rendered animal parts go to feed other animals?
In last week's cover story ["iHelp for Autism," Ashley Harrell, 8/11], the names of Gisela Rosa and AssistiveWare, the creator of Proloquo2Go, were misspelled. "Stimming," a repetitive body movement undertaken for self-stimulation, was misspelled and misused. SF Weekly regrets the errors.