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Presence Learning Therapy Tools Suite - November 2019

Suggestions for Students Who Repeatedly Tap on an iDevice

Stephanie Meehan, PhD, CCC-SLP

August 10, 2015



What are some suggestions for students who repeatedly tap on an iDevice, almost like a stim behavior or an OCD behavior?  


Try to identify why they are doing that and assign meaning to it.  If they hit a button, like "bathroom", multiple times in a row, we need to address that each time.  We respond with, “Oh, you just went to the bathroom” or “Let’s go to the bathroom” and take them to the bathroom to show that the use of the iPad is meaningful and purposeful, and people are going to pay attention to it.  If it is a new user, it might just be an exploratory behavior.  You need to wait and see what causes it or when they use it.  That can be a way to tease out what is causing that behavior.  If it is just for physical feedback - they may like to tap things or they may like the way it sounds - try to come up with a replacement for that behavior.  It is not tapping per se that is the problem; it is that they are not able to communicate.  If you have two iPads and they can tap on one and use one to communicate, this might be something that you consider.  

Stephanie Meehan is currently a doctoral candidate and a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas. Her primary research interests include augmentative and alternative communication and school based services.  She facilitates the PACCE (Promoting Access to Communication, Community and Education) team in the Schiefelbusch Speech Language Hearing Clinic.

stephanie meehan

Stephanie Meehan, PhD, CCC-SLP

Clinical Assistant Professor

Dr. Meehan is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas. She currently leads a team of clinical practicum students on the Promoting Access and Advocacy to Communication and Education (PAACE) team, which serves clients in a local school district as well as in the Schiefelbusch SpeechLanguage-Hearing Clinic.  She teaches the Introduction to AAC class to speech-language pathology master's students.  Her primary professional interests include improving the pre-service education and training in the area of AAC and issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field of speech-language pathology.

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