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Thursday, December 1, 2011

iPad update and sleep talk

Overall, I would say the iPad is a success. Janey really likes it, and that is something huge. It's very rare that she likes any object enough to actually request it and use it, except videos. I put lots of apps on, so she would have a greater chance of finding some she liked. Her favorite probably is called "Interactive Alphabet". It has an interactive picture for each letter, and is easy to navigate. The pictures engage her, especially a jack-in-the-box and a robot. She also likes Make It Pop, which has popcorn, balloons, bubbles and fireworks you can make pop. The popcorn counts as you pop it, the balloons have letters in them, etc. Both of these illustrate what is hard to find in apps. There are many great learning and special needs apps out there, but most of them require an element that Janey just doesn't have---a desire to learn new things. They might reward you with some little sound or picture for doing what is asked, but it's no-where near enough to make Janey choose to spend time with them. It's what always confuses me. It seems like many people developing programs for autism just don't get that part of autism, or Janey's form of it. She is not eager to please, or eager to learn, or eager to get to the next level. She likes what she likes, and she will do the same thing over and over until she masters it. A good app will have to sneak in learning, or have a built-in reward that is big enough to make her interested.

The other thing that has bothered me a bit is how expensive some of the autism related apps are. The "regular" kid ones are 1-3 dollars, mostly, but a lot of the autism ones are more like 20-200 dollars. It's something I've noticed so much---"special" toys and apps and programs cost so much more than "regular" ones. Is it a prerequisite to have a lot of money if you have an autistic child? Or does someone like taking advantage of how desperate a lot of special needs parents are?

The best thing about the iPad so far is how it calms Janey down when she is screaming and crying. Four or five times, I've brought it over to her in the middle of a fit and started playing it myself. She is interested enough to stop crying and play. That's worth the cost, right there.

And the sleeping? It's something I need to get a handle on. Night before last, Janey went to sleep about 7 and woke at 1am, and never slept the rest of the night. My husband was away on business, so it was all me, and it was hell. It's a special kind of torture to have to stay awake when you are desperately tired, because if you don't watch your child, they will wreck the house and hurt themselves somehow. I napped a lot during the day, and reports were she actually had a good day at school despite the lack of sleep. Her need for sleep is not normal. Some days, she sleeps a HUGE amount, others, very little, and she doesn't seem affected by either the way you would expect. It's an example of internal factors affecting her more than external ones, as often seems to be the case. If she is manic, she just doesn't need the sleep, and us wanting her to sleep makes no difference. I don't know how single parents do it. If you know a single parent with a special needs child, you will be doing your hugely good deed for the year if you can give them a little respite, or even just let them know how hard it must be for them.

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