Michelle asked for a one-to-one digital skills training session to find out how the iPad could help to support her son, Bobby, who is four and autistic. Michelle didn’t have any experience with computers or devices so she didn’t know where to start with the iPad. During the training session she learnt how to create books and hasn’t looked back.

“The trainer was great, he took his time and would repeat things if I wasn’t sure. We went at my pace and it was really calm” explains Michelle. “If I ask my older teenage sons to help me, they are too quick or want to be doing something else. It was great to have someone take their time to show me things.”

“Bobby doesn’t like enclosed spaces or new surroundings.” As Michelle explains, “He doesn’t have the ability to understand or imagine what’s going to happen. So I make him a book about the dentist or doctors or anywhere new we need to visit. His Nan is visiting from Northern Ireland soon so I have made a book about her, so hopefully he won’t be anxious or worried when she arrives to stay. The books prepare him for what is going to happen. Familiarity and routine are important for Bobby. The iPad doesn’t stop the meltdowns, he is always going to have those days where it’s all too much, but it helps.”

“Bobby needs visual support, especially with anything new. He is going to a new school in September and has been visiting. I created a book on the iPad with pictures of the outside of school, so he would recognise the building.” Michelle included a photo of his new teacher and recorded her voice introducing the teacher. “I also included pictures of the classroom and playground” adds Michelle. “It really helped, he recognised the school and his visits have gone well.”

Michelle has found creating picture books on the iPad easy to pick up and is now creating lots of books to help Bobby deal with change. “It was so quick for me, to make these books on paper would have taken me ages but I just go on Google, download a picture, add a few words and I’m done” she says. “I haven’t done much digital work in my life; at work we do everything on paper so I haven’t needed to know how to use a computer or iPad. I have learned loads, I can explore the internet to get information which is helping me at work and I have been able to access more training.”

Having an iPad has helped the whole family. “The iPad has been nothing but positive” she tells us. “I’ve found it’s helped the older boys too. They struggled to engage with Bobby but with the iPad they will sit with him, watch him on his games and try to help. Bobby usually won’t sit or concentrate on anything for more than about thirty seconds, but the iPad keeps him focused. This is the first time all the boys have been able to do something together, it’s helping them bond.”

Find out more about our Digital Skills Programme