Technology helping special needs students

It isn’t easy for 6-year-old Roberto Flores to communicate. He’s autistic and non-verbal.

But recently his class at Jamestown Elementary School received an iPad. And now he has a voice.

The school has 50 iPads and 50 iPod Touches. All classes use them. But they plan an especially important role in special education. The iPad allows the students to touch the screen and communicate through the iPad. And teachers can constantly update choices on the screen to match the lesson plan.

“With a child completely non-verbal, to be able to take initiative, touch screen and have immediate response is empowering for them,” said Katy Lernihan, a special education teacher.

Teachers take the iPads all over school – including the cafeteria – where non-verbal students can now specifically ask for the meal they want.

Adam Reo, 4, is non-verbal due to a congenital brain malformation. But with the iPad, he’s excelling at communication. Adam’s fine motor skills are also limited – holding a pencil is a challenge. But on the iPad, he can trace his name on the screen.

His parents say the iPad is making a huge difference – so much so that they’re buying one to use at home.

“The ability to communicate with him has been one of the biggest challenges since he was born and it's changing our lives,” said his father Jim Reo.