WellSpan therapists use interactive technology to reach children - WellSpan Health

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WellSpan therapists use interactive technology to reach children


Monday, August 26, 2013

iPad and apps enhance learning for those with developmental disabilities

Jaime Stover works with 4-year-old Rob
Occupational therapist Jaime Stover works with 4-year-old Rob as he uses a stylus and an iTrace application on iPad to improve his motor skills. The iPad has become an important therapeutic tool in working with children with developmental disabilities.

 
Four-year-old Rob is full of energy, curious and friendly.

He has been coming to Outpatient Pediatric Rehabilitation at WellSpan York Hospital for the past six months to work on improving his fine motor and visual skills.

Today, he’s excited about using the Toy Story read along app on the iPad and perhaps listening to some of his favorite songs on Pandora radio.

Occupational therapist Jaime Stover uses these as rewards for Rob when he completes his other activities.

After a couple warm-up activities, Stover brings out the iPad and Rob is eager to get started.

His first activity involves using the iTrace app to trace letters with a stylus. Running the stylus over colorful pieces of fruit or other pictures causes him to trace the letters.

iTrace is one of more than thousands of specialized apps that have been developed and can be used by children with special needs.

The iPad has become an important therapeutic tool in working with children with developmental disabilities such as autism, Asperger Syndrome, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy.

WellSpan Rehabilitation recently used a $3,000 grant from the York Hospital Auxiliary to purchase three iPads and a number of apps such as Prologo2Go (enables children to talk using symbols or typed text in a natural- sounding voice that suits their age or character) and Apraxia Ville (used with children who have problems saying words, sounds and syllables).

“The iPad and its many apps definitely enhance learning,” said Rachel Williams, clinical supervisor, rehabilitation therapy.

“You can see the children’s eyes light up when the iPads come out. Parents love it because the children are more engaged and it’s easier for them to get them to practice at home.”

The popularity of iPads, iPhones and iPods has triggered an explosion of technology.

For children lacking motor skills, touch screens are more intuitive devices. There is no mouse or keyboard intercepting their communication with the screen.

In the past, pediatric therapists used paper, pencil and flashcards to help children improve their speech and motor skills which were delayed due to their developmental disability.

“New, interactive technology is so much more motivating to children than our old methods,” said Stover. “They are very excited to do their activities.”

Williams added, “It’s exciting to have another option as part of our toolbox. It’s a way to help us reach children like Rob.”

After Rob finished his tasks, he was ready to use the Toy Story read along app for a few minutes to listen to the adventures of Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear.

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