The online world, especially social media, constantly amazes me. The information that we can find so easily, the friendships we make, the communities we build are simply incredible.
Facebook, Twitter and blogs have all made the task of being a special needs parent much easier for me.
Never could I have imagined that Twitter would turn out to be such a great matchmaking site (that`s a shout out to you, OMum22).
Nor could I have imagined how much the online relationships could physically support my son.
In September, Deanne, the force behind OMum22 and the blog Small But Kinda Mighty entered a blog contest with iLearnWith. Each week during September a new guest blogger would have a post voted on via comments, Facebook and Twitter interactions.
When the contest closed, Deanne was announced as the winner. While there were posts by people with a bigger Facebook presence, none mobilized support the way that Deanne did. She created a Facebook event and tirelessly spread the word with friends and family, who in turn kept spreading the word. To say that it was simply writing a post doesn`t convey just how much she talked and messaged about it; in effect, how she built a community around the iLearnWith opportunity.
Here`s the cool thing. Deanne wasn`t trying to win the iPad from iLearnWith for her two boys. They have iPads. No, she was trying to win an iPad for my son, Daniel. Deanne`s original post is here.
In the summer of 2011, Daniel received a TouchPad. It`s a wonderful device and we all still use it, but we know how the TouchPad story ends.
iPads, with such a large number of apps and developers providing more, has become THE tablet for people on the spectrum. In fact, it has become a hugely important tool for many people who have challenges communicating verbally. A few months ago someone at work was telling me about an upcoming newsletter story about a person using the iPad to replace speech as her condition made it more difficult to talk. She told me about this cool app. When she told me it was Proloquo2Go, I nodded and mentioned how big a deal it is in the special needs communities.
iLearnWith not only provided the iPad, but they also provided codes to several of their apps:
- i Learn With Boing: Savannah Adventures
- i Learn With Boing: Ice Land Adventures!
- i Learn With Poko: Seasons and Weather!
- i Learn With Poko: Fun counting and Addition!
- i Learn With the Mighty Jungle: Animals!
While not an app reviewer (I leave that to Deanne on both SBKM and on Smart Apps for Kids), I can tell you two very important things. First, is that with the iLearnWith apps it is possible to track Daniel`s progress with the apps through i Learn With – Planet Boing. I can see how useful these apps are for Daniel`s development. Second, one of the iLearnWith apps was the first app Daniel spent a large chunk of time with after using a particular train app that he enjoys on Deanne`s iPad.
I wondered how Rachel would react to Daniel`s new iPad and I need not have been concerned. It has proven to be a great tool for turn-taking for Daniel. It also offers them both an opportunity to play together with some apps.
Thank you to OMum22 for working so hard on getting Daniel an iPad and thank you to iLearnWith for organizing a contest that really highlights the relationships we build via social media. Daniel will continue to make wonderful progress because of the generosity and support of a terrific online village.