How Apple’s iPad Let an 11-Year Old Canadian with Autism Communicate

With April being Autism Acceptance Month, we previously told you Apple had created a new app collection in the App Store called Voices of Autism.

Now, we can share with you a story about an 11-year old boy with Autism in Ontario has been able to communicate, thanks to his iPad.

Emmitt Proloquo2Go

Emmitt is unable to speak due to Autism, and early on, his parents tried everything to encourage their son to be able to communicate with his siblings and peers at school. PECS picture cards worked, but that meant Emmitt had to constantly lug two binders full of pictures with him to express himself, which was a frustrating experience.

But that all changed when Emmitt’s parents learned of Proloquo2Go, an iPad app created by AssistiveWare (earlier this month we shared a story about their other app Proloquo4Text). Despite some initial hesitation by his parents to let Emmitt take full control of an iPad six years ago, the gamble paid off.

With the help of his Speech Language Pathologist and Intensive Behavioural Interventionist (IBI) at school, Emmitt learned how to use the app, which allowed him to express himself unlike before. Early on, he was using Proloquo2Go to request some of his favourite treats, such as juice popsicles. From here, the app and the iPad, changed Emmitt’s life forever.

Today, the adoption of the iPad and Proloquo2Go empowers Emmitt to not just communicate with his family, but also share his thoughts, memories and feelings, which has made his parents thrilled.

Emmitt’s mother Angela, told iPhone in Canada, “It may sound melodramatic, but it is absolutely true – Proloquo2Go has been an absolute life changer for our son Emmitt and our entire family.” She says despite going through “a few iPads” since his first one, the huge investment has paid off for her son.

Angela recalls how Emmitt was able to use his iPad to recall memories and express them—even ones made before he was using Proloquo2Go on his Apple tablet:

“He started talking about field trips he’s been on at his private school. We understood he was trying to talk about the time he went to African Lion Safari with his school. That trip was when he was 5 years old and the information wasn’t on his Proloquo2Go since it happened before he started using it for conversations, but he found a way to say what he wanted!! You should have seen his incredible smile when he realized we knew what he was talking about.”

Armed with his new communication tool, Emmitt has better control over his behaviour and emotions, but more importantly allows him to form a closer bond to his siblings.

From not being able to communicate clearly, Emmitt is now participating fully at school. He can answer questions across all subjects with full confidence and a sense of pride. With his iPad, Emmitt has taken roles in assemblies and concerts—even mastering lead roles.

Last year, Apple showed videos on how iPad had changed the game for Autism Acceptance Month. Back in 2015, the company announced new medical studies on autism with ResearchKit.