iPads and Autism – Ross White

29 April 2012

above painting made on iPad by Maxwell Bitton (based on La Danse by Matisse)

Making the Magic Real


In the relatively short time since the iPad has been in existence, there has been a great deal of publicity about its use as a tool for individuals with autism. There have been numerous articles and videos describing an almost magical impact on the level of communication and engagement, creating a great deal of expectation and hope.

But all too quickly the magical becomes commonplace, and when results don’t occur quickly interest fades.
Since I have been using the iPad with students at Giant Steps, I have found it to be an indispensable tool, and believe its potential has only begun to be realized. I have tried to keep up with specialized apps for autism and sort through the thousands of available educational apps to find the best ones, and know only too well how overwhelming it can be.

As more of our students acquire their own iPads, I felt the necessity to set up a forum where we can exchange ideas and experiences, and help each other to make the best use of what really is a remarkable device. In order to use it effectively, though, it requires knowledge, persistence, and  patience, especially with regard to using it for communication.

For the first installment of this blog, I thought it would be interesting to focus on the creative possibilities of the iPad, an aspect I have not often heard mentioned in relation to autism. One of our students, Maxwell Bitton, has created unique and beautiful drawings on the iPad, displaying a talent that had not been otherwise manifested. Drawing from  models, using his finger directly on the iPad he has realized distinctive versions of well known paintings and, of course, Disney characters. His work speaks for itself.



Jiminy Cricket



Blue (Matisse)


Don Quixote (Picasso)






Shere Khan




Snow White


Sunflowers (Van Gogh)



Week after week, Maxwell surprised and amazed me, as his style, vision and gift revealed itself. It was not always readily accessible, but the results and his visible pride in his work made the effort much more than worthwhile.

Brushes, the app used to create these works, is available on the app store.

I welcome all comments and feedback. Please bear with me as I work out the bugs in what is a new medium for me.

iPad & Autism Blog