One of the problems facing people with non-verbal autism is that when they use a letter board the disbelieving assume that the autistic person is a mere puppet, with the real thoughts coming from the aide or parent holding the board and reading the letters. For many years, that was the problem faced by Ido Kedar, a non-verbal autistic teenager who wrote Ido in Autismland: Climbing Out of Autism’s Silent Prison (which I reviewed here at PJ Lifestyle earlier this week).
Time and time again, I witnessed Ido tap out sentences on the letterboard his mother held, only to have someone standing at my side saying “That’s not Ido. That’s his mother.” This was especially true when Ido first mastered the letterboard. His muscle control was so limited back then that he needed someone to support his elbow, heightening the illusion that the person supporting Ido’s arm, rather than Ido himself, was the creative force.
The wonders of technology, however, can finally put to rest the suspicion that Ido and other non-verbal autistic children are not capable of producing the thoughts that flow from their letterboards. The two videos here show Ido with his iPad. The only prompting he receives is a reminder to keep his focus on the writing. Other than that, all the work and all the content is Ido’s alone.
Ido is still getting used to the iPad, so it’s a slower process than when he writes using his letterboard. Once he gets comfortable with the new technology, I think the sky’s the limit for his communication skills.