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Our family’s involved with a Gloucestershire charity that supports disabled children and adults with small grants.
Increasingly over the past couple of years we have been asked to help fund iPads for children of all ages with special needs.
Before agreeing to any funding we like to find out WHAT the iPad is to be used for and HOW it will benefit the child.
We also ask for a supporting letter from a professional such as the child’s teacher to make sure that it is the best option.
So, before searching for charity funding ask yourself WHY you are looking for a iPad grant and whether it’s a good choice/value for money for your child as you will need to convince your potential funders.
Increased learning and communication opportunities
This is usually the main reason for obtaining an iPad for children with communication and learning difficulties.
Children with minimal communication skills can select phrases or pictures to show choices and feelings. Apps can help them begin to learn the alphabet and the sounds of words.
Having an iPad puts the child in control. The touch screen controls are intuitive providing opportunities for the child to learn on their own at their pace that suits their needs.
It’s easy and lightweight for your child to use in many different situations.
With the increase in free wi fi it's easier to access the internet when out and about.
Parents find that it helps pass the time when waiting for hospital appointments or coping with delays at cafe’s or restaurants.
A much cheaper option to more conventional Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) equipment – costs of which run into thousands of pounds.
A wide range of apps are available from the Apple i Store.
Keep in mind that the price of those apps can vary from £150 for Proloquo2Go to free for Tap to Talk.
Even taking into account the cost of the purchase price of the iPad and the Apps compared to the cost of a dedicated AAC device it is still good value for money.
Easy to customise
The iPad can be customised to meet specific needs using the Settings icon (Accessibility options) to help a range of disabilities.
The ability to easily increase viewing size with the touch screen is great for visual impairments.
And the introduction of the ipad mini offers an alternative to children with limited hand control as it easier to hold and to use the touch screen/on screen keyboards.
Combined with a wide selection of holders and stands accessibility options can be increased further.
As the iPad is mainstream it doesn't mark the child out as different.
Kids don’t have to feel they are singled out if they using it as a communication device or for learning in the classroom.
The iPad is expensive compared to many of the new Android/Windows tablets.
The metal exterior and a glass screen may get damaged.
Depending on your child’s condition a good protective case or cover may be a must!
Check our recommendations....
Reduces Physical Activity
Some specialists suggest that increased technology may reduce activity especially where childhood obesity may be an issue.
You need to decide whether the benefits of being able to communicate/learn outweigh the lack of exercise.
For children with mobility difficulties iPads/tablets have made it is easier for them to keep in touch with their friends using a social media such a Facebook without the physical upheaval of travelling to their homes.
Parents of children with Autism or ADHD also find they use the iPad for “quiet time” or a means of unwinding at the end of stressful school day.
It has saved the sanity of many a parent when times are tough!
This is something to watch out for if your child becomes obsessive with using the ipad.
Although some children may be fixated with one game others may find the familiarity of a limited selection of games/activities reassuring.
Be advised by the professionals and your own knowledge of your child and their condition.
Lack of socialisation
If your child has a tough time socialising the iPad may cause them to further recede into their own world.
So, is the iPad the best choice? Or should you look at cheaper tablets?
Every tablet is slightly different so do compare features and other additional options.
Prices vary even with the cheaper alternatives depending on storage capacity, memory card slots, touch screen clarity etc.
Think about how your child will use it for as you may need to buy one with larger storage capacity (videos, games etc take up more memory)
The more storage you need the greater the cost.
The newer tablets often have the option of a memory card slot to easily increase capacity – iPads don’t have a memory card slot limiting increased storage.
Be realistic and anticipate your child's future needs to ensure your choice has a longer life span.
Also consider that if your child uses an iPad/tablet at school it makes sense to have the same one at home for consistency especially where the child has communication or learning difficulties.
But if it’s to use purely for entertainment as a means of “distraction” the make may not be an issue.
Ask yourself what apps will your child need? Are they only available from Apple or can they be downloaded from Google Play or the Amazon App store?
The Bottom Line
Ultimately the decision whether to look for funding for an iPad or an alternative tablet will be yours.
Make sure that you have explored all the different options and explain how you arrived at your final decision when making grant applications.
So long as you are clear to funders about the reason for your choice and provide supporting evidence of the benefits to your child they are often supportive of iPad/tablet grants.
IMHO both the iPad and tablets have much to offer and definitely make an excellent addition to the lives of disabled children (and their parents!).
The following charities have been known to fund ipads/tablets in the past or may consider applications.....
Able Kidz (for education and learning)
Cerebral Palsy Plus (BS postcodes only)
Colchester Catalyst (Essex only)
Darren Wright Foundation (BS postcodes only)
Douglas Hay Trust (Scotland only)
ECAS (Edinburgh and Lothians only)
Ellie Savage Memorial Trust (East England)
Evening Chronicle Sunshine Fund (North East England)
John Sykes Foundation (Reading)
MACS (for visually impaired)
Mayfield Home Trust Limited (Gloucestershire only)
The Royal Blind Society (for visually impaired)
SF Fund (East Midlands)
Shropshire Cerebral Palsy Society (Shropshire only)
Spoore Merry and Rixman Foundation (Maidenhead area only)
The Tottenham Grammar School Foundation (London Borough of Haringey only)
Vision (for visually impaired)
Victa (for visually impaired)
Wipe away those Tears (Essex only)
Don’t forget to approach small local charities too – they may not be able to fund the full amount but may be able to offer a contribution to the overall cost.
A selection of small local charities are listed in the Grants UK section and you can find out more by visiting your local library.