This year for Ellis’ birthday, we bought him a tablet.
I never thought I would be that parent.
I used to get quietly angry seeing young children attached to their parents tablets for hours on end. Seeing children watching Mickey Mouse in a restaurant made me secretly judge that parent. Can’t be bothered to parent your children huh?
Then as Hayden grew and we realised there were issues, my judgement of other parents stopped.
I didn’t know what that family were going through, I had no idea whether that child had spent the past 3 hours crying and whinging and actually the tablet was out because the parents were at their wits end. I didn’t know if that child had been up since 2am and mum was just bloody knackered. I didn’t know if that child had any issues and a tablet was the only way to keep them calm in a public environment. Who am I to judge?
I am now in a position where I could easily be judged by people that don’t know me and don’t know what I go through on a daily basis. On the surface we are a regular family of 5, with 3 gorgeous little boys. But underneath that, we are a lot more complicated.
Hayden’s autism has meant Ellis has had some delays in his development. I have talked about this many times before in previous posts such as A Pressure for Speech and my piece for Emma’s Diary. Many of these delays I have been quite concerned about, but have tried to keep telling myself, it will all come in the end. But it was taking it’s time that’s for sure!
About 6 weeks ago I let Ellis have a go on my iPad for the first time. I was trying to do a bit of work and I just needed Ellis to occupy himself for half an hour. He was brilliant with it! With one explanation he ‘got’ what he was supposed to do. He loved the claps and cheers he was getting for doing something right.
Within half an hour he was copying the words the games were saying. And for the first time ever he was naming shapes. I could not believe my eyes. I had spent hours with books and toys trying to get him to name shapes, and although he could say the word (albeit not very clearly) getting them right was just an uphill battle. But yet half an hour on the iPad and he could name a square, a circle, a triangle and 9 times out of 10 a rectangle correctly.
The same with colours.
We have spent months working on colours, and although he could match colours he would just guess at which one they were. After a couple of goes on the iPad he could recognise, yellow, blue, red, green and purple. And is now constantly pointing out the colours of things, which is also helping me progress his speech. He points out a colour and I mirror back the word, also adding in the object he is naming. Which he then copies.
My biggest concern was surrounding his speech. And in the last 6 weeks it has progressed quicker than I ever thought it would. I can’t say for certain whether the two things are linked but it is very coincidental that since he has started playing educational games on a tablet his speech is getting better.
There have also been a couple of occasions him and Hayden have played together with the iPad too. Which is just magical to see. Hayden would have a go, and if he couldn’t do it, Ellis would do it. And vice versa. They played alongside each other for 2 hours the other day without one single argument. I could have cried watching my two boys play together, happily. The only other game they like to play is fighting so this was a welcome change.
I’m not saying I will allow him to play on a tablet all day every day, but the progression in the last 6 weeks has been amazing! And if this is his preferred way of learning then I am not going to limit that. The tablet coupled with going to pre school 5 mornings a week, alongside the other things we get up to will surely keep pushing his progression in the right direction.
Until we have complete two way understanding I wont be adding films and games with no educational value, but one day I will. I think it’s time we accepted the way our children will learn is going to be very different from the way we learnt. And iPads, tablets and other technology will be the future. Who knows our great grandchildren may never learn to write?!