iPad mini: Is it really suitable for ASD therapy?

A few weeks ago, Apple introduced a new format for iPad: The iPad mini.

Since its introduction, I have received some emails from parents asking me on the suitability of the tablet, because it has a lower price tan the 10 inch iPad and therefore it’s more attractive to many families. I would write my opinion of this new iPad mini through this article, trying to summarize the advantages and disadvantages compared to traditional 10 inch iPad and always from the therapeutic point of view, responding to the questions of parents, mothers and psychologists.

Based on my experience, I personally would advise against buying an iPad mini when it is done for therapeutic purposes. While it is true that the iPad mini and even the iPhone or iPod touch (same as iPhone, but without the phone part) may be suitable in very specific applications and uses, the versatile of the 10 inch iPad, in my opinion, is a key factor. To defend this position I will focus on three key areas: display size, frame size and price.

Display Size: The Traditional iPad has 2 diagonal inches more than iPad mini and although 2 inch difference may seem insignificant, it is 80% more screen area for the traditional iPad. An 80% more to display more categories of pictograms in an application of AAC systems for non-verbal children, an 80% more to increase the size of the pieces of a puzzle when there are fine motor problems and low frustration tolerance and an 80% more in order to increase the number of facial expressions on screen when we are working emotions. In short, an 80% more of advantages to the 10 inch iPad.

Frame Size: Why in this case is the frame so important ? Because it is where children hold the iPad in their hands and a frame so narrow than this, turns easy to touch accidentally the screen.

Price: It seems the main attraction of the new iPad, but from my point of view it is not so. While currently the latest model of iPad is sold at a price of  $499, that it is a significant difference with the iPad mini ($329) this comparison is not fair. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the iPad mini corresponds to a technical and performance characteristics equivalent to those of the iPad 2, which currently sells for $399. So that, the economical difference between the 10 inch iPad and the iPad mini is reduced to $70. I think that $70 when we are talking about a purchase of more than $350, it is an justified amount.

The final purchase decision in favor of either model will always be of the parent or the therapist, according to their needs or the needs of the child, but I think it is important, before making the purchase, to consider all arguments exposed in this article.





There are some good points in this article however I have seen many children and adults who would benefit from the mini so I wanted to share some thoughts.
Unless there is a fine motor challenge, I have seen the mini’s smaller screen be used very easily as the spacing is so similar to the full sized iPad. For children, or anyone with limited motor skills the mini is much easier to carry around due to its lesser weight and smaller size. An iPod touch or iPhone has very condensed buttons that are often much harder to tap. So if someone is “on the go” with their device the the mini may be the prefect fit. Where I see this as a huge benefit is for when the iPad is being used for communication. We want individuals to be able to have their AAC with them wherever they go. I don’t see many children on the playground with an iPad strapped to them, but I am starting to see people take their mini everywhere – I know I do :)
As you said, it should always be up to the child’s needs. So I suggest you try them all before you buy!

LisaMaree Grace App

I am loving the mini. I was never convinced by the iPad as communication device as it is as bulky as the old style pecs book and quite heavy when encased in a sturdy cover. As you know I like Grace App communication to go everywhere so have preferred the iPod Touch and iPhone 3Gs (which we collect from donations) My daughter has no problem with the fine motor aspects of the small device. However, I can appreciate that Care-givers prefer the larger screen for teaching. .

I have had my iPad mini in a strong Otterbox Defender cover now for 4 months and literally take it around the world. I bought a chat bag to put over it and trust either of my very active autistic children to carry it around independently. It seems to me to be a much more mobile device that is easy to teach with, and easy to protect.


philippa howell

This is a great piece, thank you. We are struggling with the constant destruction of all our iPod’s, tablet’s, android phones and BlackBerry’s with our super persistent 11 year old. She too is very active but she actually really enjoys swiping and we have got to suck it up and spend the money. Her fine motor skills are pretty good, it’s more the use of both hands at the same time that is the issue. So it looks like from the above Mini is the way to go for her as long as stick on Otterbox on it (now on my GalaxyS3). As we are not a Mac household is this going to make it difficult? We have movies that she loves to watch are we going to be able to upload those or are we going to have to buy them all again, and finally would we be able to access our home server (this was to protect all our stuff from our inquisitor) with an iPad mini… thanks again for a great article.

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