On Autism Acceptance Month

Dillan working on his iPad. 

Dillan working on his iPad. 

April is Autism Acceptance Month.

Autism holds a special place in my heart. Before becoming a full-time tech journalist in 2013, I worked 11 years for Fremont Unified School District as a special education paraeducator, which is a more professional term for “teacher’s aide.” For 9 of those years, I worked with preschoolers with special needs, and much of my time was spent working exclusively with children on the autism spectrum. I was trained in several teaching methodologies designed specifically for children with autism. These methods involve an alphabet soup of acronyms, including PECS, ABA, and TEACCH.

It’s a great feeling to be able to tie my knowledge in special education to my reporting on accessibility as a writer. Apple today is celebrating Autism Acceptance Month in a slew of ways.

First is Dillan’s story. In a video (embedded below), Dillan explains how his iPad and apps such as Proloquo4Text enables him to communicate with others and how the device “changed everything in my life.” In addition, Apple has a video featuring Dillan’s mom and teacher, who share their perspectives on how Apple’s technologies have helped Dillan in his life.

Secondly, Apple has created a new App Store collection, “Voices of Autism,” which highlights apps, books, and podcasts pertaining to autism. The apps Dillan uses, including the aforementioned Proloquo4Text, are included on this page.

Apple’s commitment to raising awareness for Autism Acceptance Month brings back a lot of fond memories from my days in the classroom. It’s great to see many of the things I used analog tools for in teaching being utilized with digital equivalents.