CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- By now we all know our kids are better at using iPhones, and iPads than we are. But you may not know how the technology is suddenly helping kids with special needs in a very big way.
“I had been forewarned that he might be the cutest kid I’ve ever worked with,” said Rachel Hallberg. “He lived up to that expectation immediately.”
Hallberg is an occupational therapist at the Easter Seals Early Childhood and Family Services program in Charlotte. Bryce is just one of the kids she works with, but he is all smiles.
“He’s probably the happiest kid I’ve ever met actually,” said mother Courtenay. Mom might be biased, but NewsChannel 36 saw it, too, and at 2 years old Bryce has no idea he's different.
“I think at nine months his pediatrician noticed that something was different and it wasn’t until about 14 months that he got an official diagnosis,” Courtenay said.
Bryce has a mild form of Cerebral Palsy.
“It leaves a lot of questions as to what he will be capable of.”
He is developmentally delayed and he is still learning to walk and is slowly learning to talk. His mom has seen a big difference just in the last few weeks.
“Ever since he’s been working with the iPad, he’s been talking a lot more all of a sudden,” Courtenay said.
“I think with Bryce the biggest thing has been the interest level excites him so it’s the motivation to speak,” said Hallberg.
Rachel is the occupational therapist using an iPad with Bryce at his daycare. The Apple technology is helping the 2-year-old learn to talk.
“I would say within one week of working with the iPad he was so much more verbal, which is helpful for us at home because it’s hard for us to know how to communicate with him sometimes,” Bryce’s mother added.
“I think there is something about it that works with the way children’s’ brains work. It’s bright and colorful.”
Meanwhile, 5-year-old Avery has Down Syndrome, and thanks to the iPad, is learning to write the alphabet. Three-year-old Towner is just beginning to learn his letters. Their therapist says it’s clear these kids and their parents are grateful.
For now, Bryce seems happy just to have found a way to communicate.
“There’s a fish tank in the hallway and he likes to say hello to the fish. I showed him the sign for fish and he looked at me like ‘thank you, I’ve been trying to say fish,’” said Hallberg.
But his therapist sees much bigger things in store for this big spirit.
“I see Bryce being right where he needs to be. I just think it’s up to us, the adults in his life, to really figure out how to make it happen for him. That’s not on him, that’s on us to unlock his potential,” said Hallberg.
Here is a list of the best apps for special needs children, according to the therapists:
Nursery Rhymes Tap
Draw for iPad
I (heart) fireworks