Amelia schools wrapping up pilot program

AMELIA, VA (WWBT) - Learning is just a touch away for some Amelia County students. The school system is wrapping up a pilot program using IPads to help enhance special education.

5-year-old Ethan is communicating through touch. Ethan is autistic and although he can talk, he can't always communicate exactly the way or what he wants too. But Speech Language Pathologist Caitlin Frank is helping bridge the gap through the IPad.

"They don't always have a way to tell you those things; emotions are such a hard concept for them anyways, so it's such a great tool for them to show us that way," said Frank.

Ethan, and dozens of other students Mrs. Frank works with have been using the IPad to not only communicate, but also learn basic and important skills.

It's an old concept done in a new way; this is just simple compare and contrast, but this IPad is much more engaging for a special needs student.

"Children with autism, they love the visual elements of the IPad; there's animation and sound so it really holds their attention so well, and they love using it and touching it," said Frank.

Amelia County schools is one of the first systems in our area to partner with VCU's TTAC program, which loaned out the IPads. They'll have to turn the two they've been using back in soon, but based on the success, hope to find the money to get permanent replacements.

"The next step is to actually meet with the teachers and talk to them and get feedback; how effective they are in the classroom, what are ramifications for teacher staff development, those kind of factors, and specifically what kind of students these would be geared towards. It's not so much a large scale classroom tool; it works better on an individual basis, so I think as a therapy purpose, that's a great match," said Anu Upadhyaya with the Amelia County School System.

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