For parents of children with autism, the iPad has been a godsend. And now, thanks to the help of an electric cooperative, anIndianaschool has been able to get several of the devices to help students with autism learn.
South Central Indiana REMC used $4,790 in Operation Round Up funds after receiving an application that that co-op’s Maura Giles called “a little unique.”
“The applicant was the Martinsville Kiwanis Club, partnering with a woman who is an autism advocate and parent of two autistic children,” explained Giles, manager of cooperative relations at the Martinsville-based co-op.
With the colorful graphics and simple touchpad interface, iPads are perfect for the visual learning style of children with autism. The iPads allow the children to create and explore all the while showing information in a visual manner, making subjects and theories easier for them to grasp. Numerous autism apps are available to help with everything from building vocabulary to learning social skills. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in late March that about 1 in 88 children have been identified with an autism spectrum disorder.
But the devices aren’t cheap, and while theMartinsvilleschool district gave each special education teacher an iPad, the applicants noted the schools “do not have the funds for each student to have his/her own.”
“What better place to go than to your local electric co-op, where one of our cooperative principles is commitment to community,” said Giles.
The Kiwanis, a local insurance agent, and the Autism Society of Morgan County also made donations. And in a bit of serendipity, just as the applicants went to buy the iPads, Apple came out with a new version, causing the price of the old version to drop. There was then enough money not only for 10 devices, but also cases and an Apple gift card to pay for apps.
“The best feedback we’ve received is awareness—people saying, ‘Oh, wow, I had no idea that iPads were used for this,” said Giles. “It helps the school, it helps the parents, it helps awareness about autism, and awareness about how technology can be used.”
As at many other co-op’s, South Central Indiana’s Operation Round Up program allows members to have their bills rounded up to the next highest dollar amount. The difference goes to the SCI Membership Community Fund. Since beginning the program in 1995, the co-op has approved nearly $2.3 million in grants.