Home Speech-Language Pathology Should You Buy an iPad Now?

Should You Buy an iPad Now?

by Sean Sweeney
written by

(This post originally appeared on SpeechTechie)

Probably, yes.

We have all been witness to the flurry of blog posts, tweets, Facebook updates, and news stories on the potential of the iPad for teaching and learning. Though I was initially a bit delayed in drinking this particular flavor of Kool-aid, I am definitely a convert to this device’s portability, versatility, interactivity, and the instantaneous student engagement that results whenever it is pulled out (see Heidi Hanks’ post for a second on this, and Barbara Fernandes’ for a third). My one reservation is in the “versatility” area- the iPad still has its limitations with regards to producing work, especially written work, and though it contains a web browser, it cannot access many of the wonderful educational interactives out there that are Flash-based (and therefore should not be thought of as a replacement for a laptop). However, all that said, the iPad and the cornucopia of apps available for it have proved an essential addition to my therapeutic toolkit since I bought it last Fall (and keep in mind that I say that as a part-time SLP currently- if I had a more diverse caseload I think I would be even more enthusiastic about the iPad).

Why now? I have had a number of inquiries in the past months about the iPad, and my response has been that waiting for the arrival of iPad 2 would be wise. iPad 2 was just announced this week for release on March 11, and as expected it is faster, thinner, and equipped with dual cameras for FaceTime, PhotoBooth, and video creation. The pricing structure remains the same, with the 16G WiFi model (my recommended starting option as long as you know your district will let you put the device on their network- ask!!!) at $499. Now is also a good time to consider whether you would be happy with a first-generation iPad at a greatly reduced price, as many fanboys (probably me too) will be selling theirs and Apple is offering refurbished models for pretty cheap.

So, I’d say go for it. Before the buzz around iPad 3 starts (probably in 2012) and kills our buzz.

Check out this snippit from the video used at the iPad 2 announcement on Tues, featuring Howard Shane’s (of the Children’s Hospital, Boston- Communication Enhancement Center) thoughts on it being a “game-changer” for kids with autism). It actually made me a little verklempt.

Sean J. Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist and instructional technology specialist working in the public school and in private practice at The Ely Center in Newton, Massachusetts. He has presented on the topic of technology integration in speech and language at the ASHA convention and is the author of the blog SpeechTechie: Looking at Technology Through a Language Lens.

Related Articles


Rebecca Stevenson March 15, 2011 - 3:38 pm

Will the Ipad show youtube videos? I do early intervention in natural environments want to show social stories from youtube. I plan to buy a refurbished Ipad1 with just wifi, download the videos at home and and then use them in clients’ home that do not have wifi. Will this work?

Burt Walker March 15, 2011 - 6:12 pm


You can watch YouTube videos on an iPad using the built in YouTube app; however, I don’t believe you can download them for later use. The YouTube app requires access to the Internet.

With regard to the general use of an iPad as an SLP, I think the question has been answered by the thousands of users using speech therapy apps–nearly all of which has occurred in the last year.

Kelly C March 15, 2011 - 10:46 pm

There are several freeware application that you can use to download youtube videos (I use RealPlayer Downloader) and then you can put them on your iPad through iTunes. They may not be a little pixelated, but should work just fine. I don’t have an iPad (yet) but use this procedure for my iPod touch.

Sean Sweeney March 16, 2011 - 7:52 pm

Thanks for suggesting this Kelly!

Ajay Godhwani March 16, 2011 - 7:21 pm

Hi Rebecca,

Another option for getting YouTube on your iPad when not on WiFi is using AT&T (or Verizon’s) service. I have an AT&T-enabled 3G iPad, and I can stream videos from anywhere that I can get cell phone access. I’ve heard that the Verizon option has even better coverage, but I haven’t tried it out. Of course, this means you have to spend an extra $100 on the iPad & an extra $15 in the months that you want to have 3G access.


Please check out Verbally. It’s free AAC on the iPad! http://verballyapp.com/

Sean Sweeney March 15, 2011 - 8:57 pm

Hi Rebecca,

I can second both of Burt’s points. It looks like downloading YouTube videos for offline viewing (at your client’s homes w/o wifi) IS possible, but looks pretty complicated and I can’t recommend it:

But the YouTube app is a great one, when you have wifi.

Marsha Hughes March 15, 2011 - 9:35 pm

My nearly nonverbal two year old patients are now requesting the “pie pad” as soon as I bring in the therapy bag!

Tiffani @apujo5 March 16, 2011 - 7:40 am

There are also apps to link your iPad to your desktop/laptop. Splashtop is around $5 and works. If you are tech savvy, and can set up a VPN, you can use Splashtop through the internet. RemotePC works through the internet but, I believe requires a monthly fee. With these, you can access ANYTHING from your PC, even flash.

Sean Sweeney March 16, 2011 - 7:53 pm

Thanks for the suggestion, Tiffani!

Carol fast March 16, 2011 - 8:01 am

I have been using an iPad in my early intervention work for almost a year now and am so enamored of its capabilities that I’m working on my own app. It is extremely intuitive to use – even my 2 year olds and a “digital dinosaur” like myself can navigate around with very little difficulty. It can be challenging to find applications that teach more than the usual ” numbers, shapes, colors and alphabet” that seem to be the mainstay of everything directed toward the preschool set these days but more and more apps are available all the time. It is the most useful new therapy tool that I have acquired in many years.

Kimberly Scanlon March 16, 2011 - 6:19 pm

I’m also looking forward to buying the new iPad! Can anyone recommend specific apps to target expressive language skills that are effective with toddlers and pre-schoolers? Or, tell me where I can find a comprehensive list for speech and language apps?
Thanks so much!

Ajay Godhwani March 16, 2011 - 7:11 pm

Kim, I don’t know that much about which apps are effective with the toddlers and pre-schoolers, but this page has some great information: http://www.spectronicsinoz.com/article/iphoneipad-apps-for-aac. The page is run by some SLPs in Australia, and they update it frequently.


Please check out Verbally. It’s free AAC on the iPad! http://verballyapp.com/

Sean Sweeney March 16, 2011 - 7:36 pm

I’d recommend you start with the apps list on my blog (it’s at the top of speechtechie.com). It is not in itself a comprehensive list of apps-I don’t know if it is really possible to have a comprehensive list- but it has links to many resources both for speech related apps, and those that are generally educationally oriented (e.g. the iPodsibilities list). Also, it is a collaborative list in an editable Google Doc, so anyone (including you) can add to it. Thanks.

Ajay Godhwani March 17, 2011 - 1:32 pm

Another great resource for a list of Speech and Language Apps is on the Spectronics website. I’m not affiliated with Spectronics, but I’ve been impressed with their thoroughness. These guys are out of Australia, but I believe all of these apps are available in the US as well. Check out the list here: http://www.spectronicsinoz.com/article/iphoneipad-apps-for-aac.


Kimberly Scanlon March 17, 2011 - 3:15 pm

Great! Thanks so much, Sean!

Sheri Armendariz March 18, 2011 - 6:13 pm

Have you looked at the HP Slate 500 Tablet? It is a full functioning PC. It is basically the same size as an iPad w/tons of features. If you want to check out the link for possible functions…here it is http://h71016.www7.hp.com/html/interactive/slate_500/model2.html

Comments are closed.