iMean is an iPad application developed to help my autistic son communicate and formulate his thoughts. When Soma Mukhopadhyay taught Dan to communicate in July of 2008 he was twelve years old and had, until that time, been able to think and communicate only as a much younger child would do.
When Dan started communicating using a letterboard we were astonished by the level of his thoughts and how much he knew! Our first impression was that he had always had these thoughts and was only now able to share them with us. Gradually we realized it was more complex: the ability to communicate in letters and words—with our active help—was actually creating the capacity for thought as he worked.
Now, a year and a half later, Dan has a vocabulary of thousands of words and a great love of learning to which he brings the thirst of one who has been long denied. His favorite activities are looking at and discussing old master paintings and listening to us read him Shakespeare’s plays. Using the letterboard we discuss Shakespeare’s imagery, symbolism, narrative deftness and, of course, the characters.
Using a computer mouse is beyond Dan’s ability so far, but he can point, so we are hoping that the iPad can function as his computer collecting his favorite pictures and texts. It is just the size of a letterboard, hence the development of this program.
We hope it may be of use to others in the autistic spectrum community and welcome your thoughts.
For comments or tech support requests please email me!