There are still very few studies examining the use of iPads in an attempt to support the learning of children with autism.
What we do know is that there is a long history of research examining computer-assisted instruction (CAI). From this, we know that some children concentrate better, are more motivated to engage, and at times perform better when taught with the assistance of a computer compared to face-to-face didactic teaching. We also know that some children with complex communication needs benefit from the use of low-tech and high-tech communication aids, designed to support expressive and receptive communication.
It would be reasonable to say that using iPads in the classroom has both potential benefits (e.g., student engagement and learning) and risks (e.g., distraction, lack of social interaction, cost/breakage). As with all technology used in the classroom, it is therefore a matter of weighing up the benefits and risks on a case-by-case basis.
– Dr David Trembath