To iPad or not to iPad, that is the question


The iPad.  An autism parents best friend.  It’s portable, it offers an endless amount of entertainment and yes, it has educational value as well.  It also provides parents with a much needed break to accomplish small tasks around the house like laundry or the dishes.  It’s a wonderful companion during outings, and it’s a great distraction that allows for much needed mommy and daddy quiet time.  The iPad is probably one of the most valuable possessions autism parents own. (If you don’t own one, there are many programs that offer subsidies or free iPads to lower income families with special needs children).

For the most part, the iPad has been good for my son.  I have downloaded some great apps that teach sequencing, matching, spelling, addition, subtraction, sight words, verbs and more.  My son is a visual learner, as are many children with ASD, so these apps have been a tremendous teaching tool for him.

Having said all of that, my son’s intense fixation with the iPad is getting out of control, it’s all he can talk about.  When he doesn’t have it, he’s constantly asking for it.  The first thing he says when he wakes up in the morning is “I want the iPad.”  He could be eating breakfast, going to the bathroom or playing with his favourite toy and he will ask for his beloved iPad.  When I give it to him, he will retreat into his own world and nothing else around him matters.  When I take it away he becomes irritable, anxious and even aggressive.  I’m beginning to worry that this fixation is starting to consume him.  What am I to do?

The iPad has its pros and cons, let’s see:

A great tool for education and communication
Independent learning
Leisure time for child
Gives mom a much needed break
Educational apps

His intense fixation
The negative behaviours associated with his fixation
Plays mind-numbing video games that have little to no educational value
Poor posture when he uses his iPad
He’d rather play with the iPad than interact with actual humans
He’d rather play with the iPad than play with his toys
Refuses to leave the house when it’s time to go, would rather play with the iPad

There has to be a balance, as with any gadget, over-exposure is not a good thing.   Do I allow him to use it for one hour each day?  Do I let him use it every other day (I don’t see that going over well).  This is something I will have to figure out.

Any suggestions would be helpful!  You can leave your suggestions in the comments section below or email