Apple’s invention of the iPad was a happy accident in unleashing a new wave of possibilities for individuals on the autism spectrum. This device with its easy touch screen interface and ever expanding array of apps for increasing communication, is now in the toolbox of useful equipment for autism.
An exciting development in this arena is the autism smartphone. Created by the mother of a non-verbal ASD child, the Grace app is essentially a digital version of the Picture Exchange Communications System (PEC), a laminated picture book intended to promote expressive language. The Grace app is now available for both iPads and iPhones at the reasonable price of $38 and reports are that it is a vast improvement over its unwieldy PEC predecessor.
According to Disability Scoop, Apple has filed patent applications publicly disclosed this month that indicate their desire to keep expanding their disability market. Individuals with dexterity issues and/or vision problems have trouble with touchscreen devices so Apple is seeking connecting devices such as a joystick or straw for breath activation to remedy those problems.
Advances in assistive technology are coming fast and furious. Eye-gaze technology already exists that can track the movement of one eye to activate a computer. Rumor has it that Apple is researching the possibility of adding this Swedish technology to the iPad.
Profit motive and public good seldom align, but Apple’s boom times in the disability market signal a symbiotic relationship that will continue to improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities and autism.