Fiddle-Proof iPod For An Autistic Child
I got a reader question a few days ago which initially had me stumped. The author has a child with autism who is greatly calmed during car journeys by listening to an iPod. However, due to the child's autism, they fiddle with the iPod buttons incessantly and occasionally turn it off or pause the sound by accident, then being unable to turn the sound back on again and becoming agitated. The reader asked if I had any ideas for preventing this.
After a few days thought, I've come up with two ideas that I think would be workable:
iPod Shuffle + Regular Headphones
If you obtain one of the new iPod shuffles, the ones with no buttons on the front, and plug in regular headphones, you effectively have an iPod with no buttons to fiddle with. It's also small enough that if you use headphones with a band, you can use some tape or elastic to attach the spare cord and the iPod itself to the band of the headphones out of harm's way.
When you plug your regular headphones into the shuffle it automatically turns on, and turns off only when you unplug them. When it's on, the iPod shuffle will play everything in the library in random - shuffle - order, so this would be fine for music but not, for example, for an audiobook that came in multiple parts.
To actually control the songs and volume on an iPod shuffle you can use the headphones which come with the device or specially purchased replacement headphones which have the iPod Shuffle remote built in, or an adapter such as the Belkin Headphone Adapter for iPod Shuffle or Scosche Control Adapter for iPod Shuffle. If you're trying to find compatible headphones or an adapter, make sure it's compatible with a "3rd generation iPod Shuffle".
Full Case + Fiddle Toys
The other possibility is buying a case which completely encloses the iPod, covering all the buttons so they can only be reached when the case is opened. Depending on the capabilities of the child, you may be able to find a case which uses a type of closure that they can't open. Possibly "fiddle toys" could also be attached to the case to give the child something to keep their fingers occupied.
You could get a speciality iPod case such as one designed for joggers who didn't want the buttons pressed accidentally, or for most situations you could just use any small case that your particular child won't be able to open - a zip up pencil case or cosmetics bag would do the job nicely. A quick search on Amazon showed me the Zip It Clutch with Handle which even has a perfect handle for attaching keyring-style fiddle-toys to. It appears you can get almost anything attached to a keyring, too. Amongst others, I found:
- Minature LED Flashlight Keychain
- Fuzzy Blue Totoro Toy Keyring
- White Rabbit Plush Toy Keyring
- Light-Up Plastic Monkey Toy Keyring With Chattering Sounds
- Disney Princess Snow White Keyring
- Peanuts Charlie Brown Keyring
- Toy Story Woody Keychain with Puppet Action
Do you have a child who fiddles with an iPod and turns it off, and if so how do you cope with it?
- Ricky Buchanan