2012 Higher Love

Parent Well in our Digital World

Gloria DeGaetano

Parent Well in our Digital World – Autism and I-Pads

Part One: Guest Interview
Gloria, founder of The Parent Coaching Institute, and author of Parenting Well in a Media Age, talks with Margarita Daskalakis, a PCI Coach who parent coaches at High Functioning Family, a coaching company with an emphasis on family wellness.
Did you know that Autism Spectrum Disorders affect 1 in every 88 children? And 1 in every 54 boys? These children struggle so hard with basic communication that most of us take for granted. The i-pad has been proven to be an especially useful communication tool for children with autism. With a quick download many children can find their voice to communicate more effectively or with an instant touch find calming music to induce a self-soothing atmosphere for themselves.
I-pads for young children on the autism spectrum can engage youngsters in appropriately challenging mental problems or help them with sequencing, patterning, and categorizing—important thinking skills that they may not get to practice as much otherwise. Yet, like anything else, if the i-pad is used too much and the autistic child get depended on it, it could exacerbate problems, instead of resolving them.
Margarita Daskalakis, a PCI Coach who works through her company, High Functioning Family, found this out through personal experience. At first she was elated at what the i-pad enabled her autistic son to do. It also was a bonus that it freed her up considerably—she didn’t have to create interesting, appropriate worksheets for him, for instance—that was done through a quick download, saving her bunches of precious time. But the magic wore off fast as she observed her son becoming more and more dependent on the i-pad. She noticed that he began living solely for the time he would get with it. It was harder each day to stop him form time with the i-pad. He didn’t want to do anything else. Observing this, she went into a tizzy of anxiety—one that she found her way out of with determination and accurate information about screen technology and young children that she received at the Parent Coaching Institute. She eventually realized that the limitations and potentially harmful effects apply to autistic children as well and then was able to develop a workable “i-pad plan” for her son.
Margarita shares her moving story during this interview. She provides a roadmap for any parent with an autistic child on how to use i-pads most effectively for the child’s optimal development. Margarita shares from her mother’s heart and her expertise as a parent coach what worked best for her. She hopes it helps other parents find their unique pathway to the best and wisest uses of i-pads with autistic children.

Part Two: The Parent Coaching Corner™
I continue coaching Geri, mom of three boys, ages 13, 11, and 9 regarding self-management of their digital devices. This is our sixth session and we are in the midst of her action plan.
In our last session, we discussed ways the boys could wake themselves up in the morning, so that she could get more work done since Geri works out of her home and the morning is her best working time. Geri identified that as a first step in the boys learning to be in charge of themselves—a do-able place to begin before we tackle them being in charge of their devices.
In this session we learn that this simple “little thing” is making a huge difference in Geri’s morning routine and how much work she is able to get done. Often when we make a seemingly “small” change, it influences our kids and us in bigger ways than we imagined. This coaching session shows the power in those “little things” we do as parents to effect larger results.
(Listen to the five previous podcasts to catch up with Geri.)

Please Note: You hear a portion of a one hour coaching session. We can’t record the entire session, but we give you the important gist. For more information about PCI Parent Coaching, please contact: info@thepci.org.