How a tablet can help SEN students

SEN teacher and lecturer, Edda Niemann, summarises why the use of mobile devices for learners with disabilities and/or learning difficulties is making such a profound difference to their life and education. She is also a foster carer and the iPad has become invaluable to allow her foster son to access the curriculum.

Tablets do so many things that other devices simply cannot do.  Because they are small and light, they can be used anywhere.  They travel with the person, whatever the individual needs of that person may be.  Use is not restricted to a set location, Software can be user-specific and use non-touch technologies.  The variety of input and output methods enables users with very limited movement to access a tablet.  Visual and auditory apps engage the senses and stimulate creativity.

My foster son is 6 years old and in Year 1 of the local Primary School.  He was severely neglected and when he came to live with us at 4 ½ years old, he had very little vocabulary.  As he was already of school age (but had attended neither school nor nursery), we had to help him bridge a huge developmental gap.  He could not concentrate for long and did not know what to do with toys or how to play, but early on showed great interest in my iPad.

He has made steady progress in all areas, but using the iPad with appropriate apps helped his development of language and vocabulary hugely.  He felt that he was playing a computer game and so was very keen to use it. As the  learning was interactive, visual as well as auditory, he was quickly able to identify and name various foods, animals and other basic objects.

It was of great advantage that he could stop and come back to it easily as access was so simple.  We have now added apps to encourage reading, spelling and maths, which he is happy to use.  He now also uses the iPad to do homework, which his Teacher sets on an Internet site.  As he has problems holding a pen and writing, he much prefers this.  

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