CINCINNATI -- Although they're occasionally heralded as the harbingers of an attention-span apocalypse, tablets are a favorite toy of modern children from preschool onward. The little devices can be used to play games, write, draw and watch videos -- a collection of childhood pastimes in one sleek, digital box.
According to Children's Hospital nurse Julie Cook, they're a special treat and sometimes a valuable tool for the young patients she works with. Her own son, Ethan, uses one as adaptive equipment to help him interact with others at school and home.
"When we initially started trying to find ways to do communication … the only options were storyboards or disability toys and equipment, which gets really pricey, and insurance doesn't always like to pay for those," she said.
The iPad has been life-changing for her family, Cook said, and even children without disabilities can benefit from having an electronic toy to help them get through hospital stays.
That comfort will be available to more Children's Hospital patients than ever soon thanks to a donation from Pads for Peds, a Minnesota-based nonprofit that gives tablets to pediatric wards across the country.
Ten hospital-owned tablets, which will contain child-friendly games and apps, will be available for young patients to check out while they spend time at Children's.
"I hope we have them checked out all the time so that kids who have to stay here at the hospital overnight or for long periods of time having something fun to do and something to look forward to," Kate Shamszad, clinical director for child life at the hospital, said.
"They're a great research for education, entertainment -- you name it," added Pads for Peds program manager Leah School. "The distraction they can provide is priceless."