Joseph has had his iPod for a little over a month now (a 2nd generation, 8gb iPod Touch that we bought used on craigslist for $75), and I think he's gotten pretty used to it (and so have we). Angry Birds came off pretty quickly because he didn't want to do anything else. For a while, every time we started an educational game on for him, he wouldn't even look at it before he hit the home button and started up a movie or an episode of Spongebob. At this point though, he's playing his games more than he's watching movies, particularly the puzzle games.
Something I discovered in the meantime is the excellent blog/website Apps 4 Children With Special Needs. Gary James writes great reviews of apps, including detailed video walk-thrus. This is wonderful, because even if an app only costs a couple of dollars, it's nice to be able to see it before you buy it so you can have a better idea if it's something your kid is going to be interested in. I've seen some apps that were excellent concepts, but poorly executed, so it pays to do your research. When our tax refund came, I bought $50 of iTunes gift cards, of which I've spent about $35, and most of the apps I've bought he likes.
Joseph prefers to use his iPod on his own. If the app requires help from an adult, at this point he is usually not interested. So good apps for Joseph = Apps that Joseph can figure out on his own.
Some of the apps that Joseph particularly likes:
Puzzle Me - Jigsaw puzzle game with various levels of difficulty available.
Wood Puzzle - Exactly what it sounds like. Has a counting element, after puzzle is completed, will say "Three Chickens" or something like that.
Speech with Milo, Verbs - A cartoon mouse teaches verbs (non-concrete language is a challenge for Joseph). They also have one for Prepositions.
Monkey Preschool Lunchbox - Monkeys play games that teach various skills such as counting, colors, etc.
Cosmic Top - A psychedelic top that spins in space and makes whirring noises.
First Words Deluxe - Drag letters that look like Scrabble tiles to spell words.
VolaFriends, Faces - Select a face from a simple black screen with 9 faces showing different emotions. The face enlarges, an animation of the expression is shown along with a voice saying what emotion it is.
Bob Books - Simple stories that teach some basic spelling interactively.
Any of several memory matching games. He loves these.
These all work on iPod. We've gotten two or three apps that are iPad only by accident, like the new Milo app.
Kindergarten.com has a huge catalog of apps designed for kids with autism. I've downloaded them all but can't seem to get Joseph interested in them. I think this is a failure on my part, rather than the fault of the apps, and I'm sure that eventually they will be helpful to him.
The Otterbox Defender case that Joseph initially ruined was replaced for free by Otterbox and has survived since then. The silicon tab that protects the dock connector muffles the sound a lot, but we just leave it open when he's using it, easy enough. It's been dropped a couple of times and isn't broken yet (knock on wood). The Otterbox Defender is also available for iPhone and iPad.
At Joseph's parent/teacher conference a couple of weeks ago (no news from the conference, it doesn't warrant it's own post), I told his teacher about the iPod and told her we would send it with him to school so they could use it as a learning tool and/or motivator. I'm not sure how much or what they're doing with it with him, but it usually comes home with the battery drained, so it's getting used one way or another.
I listened to a podcast from The Coffee Klatch on the 13th about using iPads for kids with autism. Shannon Rosa, the guest being interviewed, talked about how before she won an iPad in a school raffle, she always thought of them as being not so different from large iPhones, which is what I've thought since I first saw them. She said she had an iPhone and she let her son play with it sometimes. But she said the iPad really is more than a big iPhone and it has opened up new opportunities for her son and is easier for him to use. Not to mention, some apps that I think would benefit Joseph only work on the iPad's larger screen. The podcast rekindled my interest in getting Joseph an iPad.
I have a couple of codes for an app called Word SLapPs, but it only runs on the iPad. If you have an iPad and think your child would benefit from this app, please leave me your email address and I'll send you a code (I only have two available).
How much he is learning remains to be seen. But if nothing else, he's playing with puzzles and stimulating his mind without the baskets of pieces to get lost. It's engaging him and that's a good thing. :)