Got Autism? Get an iPad!

ipadIt was none other than Steve Jobs, iconic CEO of Apple Computers who called the iPad a magical device. Mr. Jobs was likely referring to the technological marvels of the new tablet computing device his company was releasing. Like many such advances in technology, in a child’s hands the iPad has become babysitter, learning tool, and for some, drool catcher. But is it possible this sleek, modern, super futuristic computer is a possible cure for autism in children?

Setting aside the politics swirling around potential causes for autism, as well as the various definitions for what is considered autistic, current estimates have just over 1% of children in the United States diagnosed with autistic tendencies. This amounts to quite a few children with shortened attention spans, decreasing abilities to communicate or even perform basic living functions on their own.

The more extreme cases of children with autism see those afflicted mired in lives of frustration often culminating in violence. Sometimes extreme violent actions to themselves and the loved ones around them.

Millions of dollars goes towards research and development in the field of childhood autism every year. Knowing what truly causes autism in children is clearly important, as is understanding how to cure the disease. Perhaps as pressing to those parents who may have one or more offspring afflicted with autism is effectively managing their kids until the day comes when the cure is available.

As with most aspect of the unknown, a wide variety and depth of speculative solutions are constantly being created (and just as readily being discarded). The aggressive nature of the violent outbursts which occur in an afflicted child can be as much or more than many parents are able to handle at a given time. Violent and abusive responses are not uncommon to flustered and frustrated parents. Relief, usually coming in the form of the child’s complete exhaustion, tends to be the only relief to appear on the weary parent’s horizon.

Application developers, along with the infrastructure Apple has created with its App Store have provided iPad owners with virtually unlimited numbers of software programs. Anything which one could do on a traditional computer or laptop is easily done within the confines of the iPad’s systems.

By internalizing the keyboard, removing the need for a mouse (pointing device), and building the CPU and other components in the thin space beneath the touch screen, the iPad is a complete, powerful system. One which takes up very little space and is relatively light. These slim, robust computers are easily held and manipulated in even the hands of small children.

And kids tend to figure out technology fast. Even faster than adults with 12:00 still flashing on their VCR. But a kid who is autistic? Is it really possible they, too, are benefiting from all those futuristic bells and whistles?

Apparently they are.

Was the first interaction between autistic child and iPad accidental? Did a distracted parent forget his sleek, new computer was within reach of the violent, often temperamental child? Or was it that same frustration which prompted the parent to use any means necessary to appease the demands of their child?

Whatever the answer, the facts are clear. Children with diminished capacity to process or even control the incoming flow of information in the world around them are doing just that with the aid of the iPad. More precisely, they are able to learn and deal with much more of their environment as a direct result of some ingenuous applications which have been developed for the iPad platform.

The hardware capabilities built into the iPad, like the video and audio recording as well as its still camera are allowing parents to teach their challenging children with real world examples. Images and sounds taken from the immediate surroundings the autistic child is most familiar. And most comfortable with.

Once the cost of the iPad is overcome, applications are available from $5 upwards to a couple of hundred dollars. Perhaps one of the most interesting intangibles of all, however? iPad’s are cool. Kids with iPads stick out, but in a good way. The last thing an autistic child needs is more negative attention.

This post was written by guest author Joshua Hitch. Joshua became interested in ways to further the learning of children with disabilities after working closely with disability denial lawyers to learn what some of these children struggle with.

photo by: Ed Yourdon

Social Impact of Texting

Texting has opened up new methods of communication over the past 10 or so years.  Similar to the advent of the internet and social media sites like Twitter, Blogger and Facebook it has affected most of our lives.  It means that we can send a message and the responder can reply when it suits them.  This makes it less intrusive in our lives.  This makes it much more useful in situations where spoken word is impossible.

Texting has also added to TV interaction.  Many shows and news broadcasts use texting as a means of instantly voting or taking part in a poll for example.

Texting is also changing our language.  Abbreviations are the name of the game here.  Ur, lol, gr8, etc are all common phrases, or shortened phrases used in text messages.  The result is that many people raised during the texting revolution have problems with grammar and its use in our language.  Schools are having problems teaching writing because of texting.  Students spelling and grammar are suffering.

There is also information out there that suggests that texting actually improves writing.  The fact that people write texts on a constant basis is good writing practice and helps students to articulate on the written page.

In academia texting has also been associated with cheating especially in Japanese schools.  Most schools now require that students have their cell phones turned off during school hours.

Parties and other large group gatherings are often arranged via text.  It has been used increasingly in major world events and is used by news and other media sources to gather information.  The business world has made use of texting and particular groups such as sales staff often make use of it.

Eddie Lamb has been a freelance writer for fifteen years. In addition to writing for print magazines and newsletters, he has also published guest posts on dozens of the top blogs. He writes about society, technology and even reviews companies as well as covering breaking news stories.

Why Do Customers Complain?

Customer complaints management is important. Businesses can learn the reasons why their customers complain and look for solutions.  Customer complaints management enables higher levels of customer satisfaction.

Staff must be trained in the best practices for handling customer complaints and invest in complaint handling software .  Each customer interaction must be done with empathy and a real strong motivation to listen to the customer.  It should include a one on one interaction with a relaxed and non threatening approach.  An apology should be included at the start of the exchange.

A full set of notes should be prepared in the consumer complaint software that you are using – and during the interaction give the customer frequent summaries of what you are including.  Take responsibility for the problem and outline the steps that will be involved in your research and resolution.  Let them know the time frame and when you will contact them.

It is important that you follow up at the assigned date.  This shows the customer that you are really interested in them and their problems.  You can also take a proactive approach by contacting your customers regularly – not just when they have a problem.

Future Shock and Expert Advice

When was the last time you needed expert advice? Whether it’s changing a car tire, figuring out finances, or managing your time between a new position, a new apartment, and a new baby, we all need to find information that we don’t know. In the past, such advice was in the hands of professors and doctors, or mechanics and repairmen. But the world people live in today is complicated. Even forty years ago, people thought they were living in an overwhelming, changing age, not quite certain what the future worlds of 2001 or 2010 might bring.

In 1970, this feeling of being overwhelmed by the rapid rate of social and technological change was given a name, Future Shock , and explored in a book by the same name. The book, written by Alvin Toffler, described that the majority of social problems were symptoms of future shock, and he popularized the term “information overload.” It’s simply impossible today to know everything one needs to know to get through the month, much less a life time of changing circumstances.

With the power of the Internet, though, and on-line expert advice sites, the technology of the world actually makes the world a little more manageable by allowing you to ask any expert you want any question, and receive an answer in a timely manner, which may also ease your own future shock, until the next information challenge arises.