Naturalistic Approach with IPads as Communication Device

iPads as communication devices have become more and more common, especially the environment that we are in! There are a lot of communication apps available. Regardless of what app you and your students are using, it is important to integrate the iPad in a naturalistic fashion. 

I have a couple of students in my classroom using the iPad as their main method of communication. Both of them have had prior experience with the IPad and the program they are currently using, but yet it seems like they just started using them. I tried to program both of their iPads in a similar fashion. We have a home button, and a school button. When opening the school button, you have a selection of about 10 other buttons. All of the classes are an option. For example:

School – PE, MSAA, Reading, Biology, Lunch, Vocational Boxes, Cougar Cafe, Math

This set up allows me to program words that are relevant to my instruction on the iPad. I ask the students questions and they are able to be part of the classroom conversation using their iPad. One of the students using the iPad loves to turn off the light and turn off the projector when we are using the Smartboard. Therefore, we programmed some questions on his iPad, such as ‘May I please turn off the light,’ or ‘May I please turn off the projector.’ After prompting this student a couple of times, he learned how to access the questions and how to get to do the jobs that he enjoys so much. This is what I call a naturalistic approach. I want the students to use the iPads as normal as they would use their own voice. If the student’s try to vocalize only and I understand what they are saying, of course they get what they are asking for. I want them to understand that using some type of communication helps them to meet their wants and needs. 


I am not against using iPads in a one on one teaching session. But that is what it needs to be. I think when there is a one on one teaching session with an SLP using the iPad, it needs to be about learning how to navigate it better. In my point of view, when using iPads in school, they need to be incorporated into the entire day. Carrying and using them needs to become a routine.