Have you been thinking about getting a new iPad2 for yourself or your child? Well, I can’t help you with the decision for you (although I will say that it is pretty neat, it probably depends on your budget!), but I can give you some insight into the challenges and uses for Case.
We’ve now had the new iPad2 for several months (yes, I set my alarm for the middle of the night to wake up and buy it for Case – you never know how hard it will be to get!) but putting it to full use has a lot of considerations!
1. Drop Protection. As anyone using an iPad with a child with special needs can attest, sometimes our kids are a little quirky and a little dangerous. After we received the iPad 2, we were waiting for the new Otterbox to come out to protect it from accidental drops (or throws, as Case has been known to do). We had an Otterbox on his school iPad and on our iPhones as well and have been pretty happy with it. I preordered it, but then after reading and digesting all the negative reviews of it, I cancelled our order. It appeared to provide both less protection and more daily use annoyance than any other iteration of the Otterbox, so we settled on another product.
Last week, we received and put on the Gumdrop Drop Series Military Edition cover for Case’s iPad. I’m pretty happy with it so far. No big drops yet (hallelujah), but it does appear to give similar protection to the Otterbox and is easy to grip in your hands. It does not have a front cover that doubles as a stand, so I did purchase the Kickstand Adjustable Stand as well and after testing it out, I am incredibly happy with it since it can be adjusted to typing, reading, or movie watching angles and different heights. Not as convenient in some ways as the Otterbox cover, but it sounds like I’ll be less irritated overall with these choices.
2. Jailbreak. No, we didn’t do anything illegal to score him the iPad. What is a jailbreak, you say? Frankly, it was some nebulous and “hacker-ish” word to me until a few months ago when I went on a search for what seemed like an easy solution. I needed an app or something that would prevent Case from both going in and out of apps repetitively without using them constructively (MPS can cause autistic-like or compulsive behaviors like this) and from going into certain apps (like being able to jump to a movie when we’re trying to work on education apps) at all without a password.
Jailbreaking is done with a program that opens up the Apple iOS software to allow you to use it in ways outside the structural setup Apple has created. In some ways, I look at it as allowing you the best of both the Apple ease of use and the Windows versatility, all in the iPad. You can download and use apps that are found outside the Apple app store. I first began considering jailbreaking for IncarcerApp which allows you to deactivate the home button – “incarcerating” that curious special needs child in a special educational app that he should be working on, instead of allowing him to jump to the Barney video he wants to be working on. Another example is Lockdown or Locktopus, which can give you app-specific/folder-specific password protection so you can keep that curious child out of certain apps unless you specifically activate them.
Now, I also understand that there are a lot of other fun and useful apps out there for a jailbroken device, but frankly, Case doesn’t really care about those and neither do I. But if having a jailbroken iPad will make it more useful for him and allow him to focus better, I won’t hesitate to make it happen. The iPad 2 jailbreak has not completed development yet, but as soon as it does, I will have to seriously consider the advantages of it. Hopefully Apple will consider the large segment of its audience who have special needs and need some specific tweaks like these when it updates its iOS in the future.
3. Garage Band. So although Case primarily uses his iPad for educational purposes, we still have a blast playing with apps like Garage Band! If you haven’t bought it yet, it is an incredibly fun app and well worth the $4.99. For a long time, Case had a compulsive behavior of tap-tap-tapping the iPad instead of dragging and dropping. Since he is very musically motivated, we used the smart drums and smart guitar on Garage Band to reward the dragging motion and I am happy to say that within a few weeks, he stopped that behavior altogether. This is just another example where you can re-purpose an app from just being fun to training a specific skill or behavior. You just need to think of the behavior or skill you want to encourage and find an app that rewards it in a way that motivates your child.
4. Apps, apps, and more apps. We researched lots of apps – for every kind of educational and helpful purpose for Case and have come up with an ongoing list organized by type, price, use, and Case’s current favorites. After talking with other MPS parents, we hope to complete the list soon and post it on here, so sign up for e-mail updates or check back often! When we do, we would love to hear your input about apps you’ve been using!