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Your Dollars @ Work: iPads help students meet their full potential

This is a post by Elizabeth Sterling, grant writer at Laradon's Alternative School. In 2013, the school received a Sprouts Neighborhood Grant from Autism Speaks to purchase iPads for their classrooms. 

Laradon’s school was the beneficiary of an award to purchase iPads through the 2013 Autism Speaks Sprouts Neighborhood grant opportunity.  The iPads have been a powerful and versatile tool for both academics and leisure time in the classrooms.  It has been exciting for the school staff to watch our students gain more independence in successfully completing learning tasks with the help of this technology. Many of our students with autism spectrum disorders learn academic concepts more easily with the visual teaching methods possible with the iPads.

One of our students with an autism spectrum disorder, Caleb, has difficulties in understanding complex social expectations and in expressing his needs. Caleb has a hearing impairment, and is learning American Sign Language (ASL) to be able to better communicate his needs and wants. Once the iPad was introduced to Caleb’s classroom, his teachers started using it to record videos of appropriate responses to specific social situations in an effort to teach him these concepts in a way that was easy for him to understand.



Caleb’s staff made videos of him saying “no” or “stop” to his peers by signing, since he lacked the ability to communicate distress to his peers.  He would remain in negative situations where his peers were having challenging behaviors, and would not remove himself from the peers that were causing him distress. His teachers, through the videos, have taught him how to sign in this situation and also how to exhibit socially appropriate body language.

Caleb has benefitted immensely with this teaching tool. He has been able to use his preferred style of visual learning with the iPad social skills videos to add to his growing repertoire of social skills in a variety of situations. Laradon’s Alternative School staff is looking forward to continuing to develop new and exciting uses for the iPads to further improve our students’ learning opportunities, as Caleb’s iPad did for him.

About Laradon School

Laradon’s Alternative School serves students in the Denver metro area who are between the ages of 5 to 21 and have a dual diagnosis; that is, they have a developmental disability and a co-existing psychiatric disorder. Many of the students have an autism spectrum disorder. The staff in the Alternative School works closely with students to establish compelling and engaging ways to teach, while building strong personal relationships with them to better understand students’ individual interests.  Incorporating technology into the classrooms has greatly enriched students’ learning. 

Your Dollars @ Work is a blog series highlighting the important work of past recipients of Autism Speaks grants to give you a glimpse into how your donations are changing lives of so many in the autism community! Check out previous entries here

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.