Before my son was born, I was adamant: no devices. I was even on the fence about the TV, but I couldn’t be that mean to my husband. Still, I was confident that my children would not have their own devices until they were probably teenagers. I had spent my whole childhood playing and fully expected my children would do the same (no cable until I was 15 made it easy!)
But he turned 1 and barely said anything. He was a little over 13 months before he said his first word. We tried everything to get him to talk. He understood everything we said, but wouldn’t or couldn’t say much.
By the time he was 18 months, I knew he had a speech delay, but his pediatrician told me they wouldn’t test him until he was 2. That left 6 long months before my suspicions could be confirmed.
While we waited, I started working with children with autism again. This time, I was issued an iPad to use with the kids. I didn’t believe in using devices with toddlers, so I tried not to use it. But when I did, when my supervisor said to use it, I saw one of my clients really take off. It was motivating and programs were mastered faster. And I began to think maybe there is a case for devices at an early age.
Then I thought: if this works with children with autism, could it work with my son?
My son was 20 months when we got him an Amazon Fire for kids. It took him a couple of days to warm up to it, but, when he figured out how to use it, the first thing he did was find the truck and bus videos. A few weeks later, he was saying truck and bus.
My leap of faith was working. Of course, he didn’t start talking overnight. He was still diagnosed with a speech delay. But he was saying a good dozen words by the time he started speech therapy. He was surprising us and his therapist with new words. He was picking things up from the games and videos he had found. He had learned his colors 4 months after starting speech.
My son is 3.5 and graduated from speech therapy after a year. He talks up a storm now and still learns new things from his tablet. The awesome thing about him, though, is he regulates his use on his own. He balances tablet time and playing with his toys himself.
So, yes, my toddler has his very own tablet. It wasn’t what I had planned, but he shows me every single day it was a good idea.