We covered both autism awareness month and the iPad five years later over the last couple of days, but now it's time to look at what the two can accomplish together.

Shannon Des Roches Rosa's son Leo, now fifteen years old, has been using an iPad since shortly after it launched in 2010. Over the last five years, both Leo's usage of the iPad, and Rosa's understanding of it, have evolved. From Rosa's blog:

I now understand that it isn't just his iPad's icon- rather than text-based interface that makes it Leo-friendly; it's also its simplified, consistent grid app layout, which allows Leo to rely on motor planning as well as visuals. That motor predictability is a crucial factor for an autistic dude whose body doesn't always do what he wants it to do.

And iPads don't just allow Leo to make his own choices; they allow him to make choices at his own pace.

Consistency is feature for any user, but for accessibility, it can be a major feature. It makes the device predictable, and that reduces stress and amplifies usability.

Rosa's bullish on the future as well:

I think things are only going to get better for autistic people like Leo when it comes to the ways in which apps and iPads affect their quality of life. Autistic people themselves are making apps Leo enjoy, and more app developers are prioritizing autistic interests and overlooked needs. I look forward to writing another post about more amazing developments, five years from now — or maybe even reading a post put together by Leo himself, using an AAC app.

If this doesn't help people understand the empowering nature of the iPad, then I don't know how else to help them. It's just such terrific stuff.