iPads give nonverbal children a voice

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Millions of people own an iPad. They keep notes, emails and use it to read books. For children with autism, or those who are nonverbal, an iPad is a link to communicating with the world. With the touch of a finger, children who were at one time nonverbal now have a voice.

At The Keystone Academy in Jacksonville, an iPad is opening new doors of communication.

"You can see the child light up. They know they answered the question and everybody cheers. It is fabulous," says Primary III teacher Leslie Johnson.

The HEAL Foundation, which stands for "Healing Every Autistic Life" is making its goal this year to get an iPad in every Exceptional Student Education classroom, public and private, in the five county area surrounding Jacksonville and Camden County, Georgia.

"They have it in their mind, but they can't express it and through the iPad, they can express all those wonderful things," said HEAL Foundation co-founder Leslie Weed.

It is helping children do simple things, like telling someone what they want to eat. Before this, children with autism or other children who were nonverbal, had to use a book of pictures. The flaw with the books is pictures can easily get lost. Then a child would want something and not have a picture to show.

With an iPad, that is not a problem. Parents say this technology is absolutely life-changing. Kathye Harber's daughter Avery goes to The Keystone Academy and has autism.

"I will be in the kitchen making dinner and I will hear, 'I want Juicebox' because the iPad gives her a voice," Harber said.

Students start with pictures and then move to words and planning their activities.

The HEAL Foundation wants to see every child get the chance for their voice to be heard. To get this goal moving forward, the HEAL Foundation said The Players Championship and Nimnicht Auto Dealerships are donating money. It also needs help from the public, too.

To donate, visit HEAL's website. It also has a fundraiser coming up. Country music artist Jack Ingram will hold a concert at TPC Sawgrass September 12. All proceeds will go to getting iPads in the schools. Tickets and donations can be made on HEAL's website.


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