Like all little boys, the Monster loves his toys. Our living room has often been an unimaginable clutter of his toys since he likes to empty out his toy box, and he’s not always the greatest at remembering to clean up or wanting to be cooperative and do so.
The toys he really likes, though, are computers.
We’ve known for quite a while that he has a thing for computers. He figured out at a very early age that if he pokes our phones in a given way, they light up (we both have iPhones). Likewise, if he goes and pushes buttons on the keyboards of our computers, they tend to make noises. He’s a little sensation-craving beastie, our Monster, and he likes the reliable response that he gets from devices. Figuring that he needed to be channeled into something else, a few months ago I reformatted my iPod Touch and gave it to him as his “little phone”, which remarkably keeps him away from our real phones.
Baltimore City provided their special education teachers with iPads, but without training on how to use them. It wasn’t long before he’d figured out how to unlock his teacher’s iPad and, using the knowledge he’d gotten from the iPod, scrolled to whatever game he wanted and opened it to play all on his own. (Though, let’s be honest – he preferred to do the ‘wrong’ thing, because that sound which signaled an error was more appealing to him than the reward in-game.)
Likewise, both of us have Nooks. He very quickly figured out that they behave just like an iPad (neither of us lock our Nooks), and well… Barnes and Noble sends out the Color and Tablet with a children’s book on them (The Elephant’s Child). B&N children’s books often have a ‘Read To Me’ feature, which he knows how to turn on, and he’ll thumb through the book faster than it can read to him, just to hear the snippets of dialogue that he finds funny. At this point, I think he has The Elephant’s Child and Digger the Dinosaur memorized, from how often he repeats lines from them.
We’ve been considering getting him his own iPad – my wife’s preparing to file for Low Intensity Support Services (LISS) funding to see if they’d be game for that – due to the amount of software that’s available and that might help a child with delays like ours has. It’s really funny when you realize that otherwise, I would never rationalize giving a four-year-old an iPad, but this is something of an unusual situation. To me, it’s a shame that the Nooks are in a walled garden (I haven’t rooted either one, yet, though I’m enough of a geek to do it myself), as well as the fact that I’m not sure of what software exists on the Android platform.
I’ve also come to the decision that I’m going to make an account for the Monster on my Mac mini, since I can’t imagine him really doing anything that can hurt my computer. I just have to figure out if there’s any decent software available for the Mac that I could put on there for him to use. Thankfully, I’m not yet worried about where he might surf if I leave a web browser enabled, since he’s not even really spelling save where Sesame Street’s giving him a leg up.
I’m open to any recommendations if folks know about decent apps – I’ll likewise share back if I find one that works or that he likes.