Anna’s six-year old son, Malyn, has autism and sensory difficulties meaning that his communication skills are limited. She applied to Family Fund for a tablet to support his learning and communication needs.

“Despite being just five when he received the iPad Malyn knows more than me because he uses them in school for maths and other subjects. Routine is very important, his behavior is more challenging at certain times of the day. The transition from school to home is very stressful, and immediately after school is a very testing time.” Having the iPad though, meant that Malyn could take some control of his routine and would pick it up as soon as he returned home from school. “He watches videos on YouTube and plays games. It helps him to unwind at the end of the school day and settle down, whilst giving me some time to do other things I need to do.”

Anna also found the iPad could be really useful during other transitional times. “Malyn would often grow anxious if he had to leave the house outside of his normal routine. I quickly realised that the iPad presented a successful way of distracting him, helping him to focus on the iPad rather than the fact that we were doing something different. He also used to run away and the iPad is a good way of getting him back and to stay in one place”.

“The iPad helped transform our daily home life, reducing instances of challenging behaviour and allowing Malyn to be occupied and in control of what he was doing. It wasn’t all plain sailing though. The iPad brought along its own challenges in the early days, especially when Malyn wanted to use it away from a wifi connection. We live in a rural area where wifi access can be patchy and Malyn couldn’t understand why YouTube wouldn’t work when he was in the car and he would get frustrated.”

All this changed after Anna and her husband received training through the Family Fund’s digital skills programme. The training from the Apple Education Trainer provided by Family Fund not only outlined how Anna could download videos and similar, which could then be viewed without a wifi connection, but also highlighted useful apps and other resources for Malyn. As a result, Malyn can now watch his favourite videos without internet access which has reduced the number of outbreaks of frustration. “It was, and still is, really hard to make Malyn understand how wifi works,” said Anna. “But now he can watch videos away from internet connection, he’s starting to understand a bit more.”

“Through the training Malyn was also introduced to a drawing app he can now draw things on screen using his fingers which has helped his confidence in using the iPad develop. He’s particularly interested in the solar system; we downloaded an interactive app which lets him move around a 3D planet he now watches Brian Cox videos over and over!”

“We found the training session extremely useful Ray spent the whole morning talking through mine and Malyn’s specific needs and how the iPad could be useful to us as a whole family. He’s now fully engaged with the iPad and it’s definitely benefitted all the family. My husband and I are both more confident in using the iPad as a result of the training but we only get to use it when Malyn has gone to bed!”

Find out more about our Digital Skills Programme