WELLINGTON, Fla. - It's a picture book image of summertime fun as group of youngsters laugh while jumping on a trampoline.
Nearby are the picture books, iPad tablets in this case, promising to make a difference for the boys at Melissa Winter's Wellington home. Her son Max, and his friends, Cody and twins Jaden and Brendan are autistic.
"You can build anything, anything," says Max. "It is a fun way for kids to use their imagination."
Nine-year-old Max is playing Mindcraft. It's his favorite game, requiring visualization and creativity.
"Its a way for kids to learn and it helps you socialize with others," he explains to me.
His mom and special education teacher, Sara Pavlovich, agree.
"I don't just rely on the iPad for my instruction. I have curriculum that I need to follow. I have assessments I need to give in the classroom," Pavlovich said.
The tablets makes learning fun and increasingly they are being put in the hands of autistic children.
"For him to have something he can fully engage into is amazing, and I can leave the grocery store not in a full sweat because the apples are tumbling down, because he's happy," said Melissa Winter, Max's mother.
Tablets do not help every autistic child. The autism spectrum is a rainbow of unique personalities and needs. But when and where possible, at home or school, the positive re-enforcement matters.
"They were not speaking," explained Candi Spitz, the mother of twins with autism. "Now he's adding and subtracting. He was counting on the trampoline.
Just one tool, but a welcome one in a world where every glimmer of hope and progress counts a lot!
For more information on Melissa Winter's program on how to win an iPad, click here:
bitly link for mobile users: http://bit.ly/17WwpK7
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