iPads give kids a voice

Modern technology is helping give some kids a voice.

Speech therapists are now using apps for the Apple iPad to improve children's lives.

Six-year-old Zane Ogden has a lot to say, but it's hard for him to talk. His speech therapist says he's a social boy, but he was born with a tumor coming out of his mouth which resulted in a cleft palette and cleft lip. Many surgeries later, he's getting this talking thing down, thanks in part to this iPad.

"It's so universal and so diverse that we can across the board hit a lot of speech and language impairments such as articulation, we can use it to video tape to show progress, it's great for vocabulary," speech pathologist Kristie Kemner said.

A lot of the apps used in the speech therapy are $.99 or free. The applications' technology are also aiding some stroke victims in recovery.

Another benefit to the technology is its portability. iPads can go anywhere, even kids in wheelchairs or beds can use them. The speech pathologists at Quincy Medical Group know the limits of the technology.

"We have to be careful with it," Kemner said. "We don't want it to become everything because we want it to generalize, but it is a really unique device that you can change it for every kid."

For Ogden, it's motivation to do well in therapy.

Kristie Kemner gives him certain words to say, when he correctly repeats it, he gets to build a car on the iPad.

"You pick out what car you want to make, you pick out what wheels and what motor and stuff," Ogden said.

And the uses are limitless. Kemner also has a client who is autistic and was completely nonverbal. With the help of the iPad, he could choose what he wanted on the screen and take it to his therapist and the iPad would speak for him. As of last week, he's now speaking for himself.

"He's now four, in a short amount of time, he's using words and wanting to use them, and he's using them appropriately," Kemner said. "Grandma's crying, mom's crying. All of a sudden, you're like 'did he just say a word?'"

Kemner says the technology of the iPad allowed the boy to relax enough to understand sentence structure. Now he doesn't even need the iPad anymore. Kemner says she and the other therapists don't want the iPad to be a crutch. They want it to be a springboard to help the kids do what most of us take for granted.