FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — JAN 25, 2012 —
By Steve Marschke
13-year old Qais Kakar is new to this country and new to the concept of school – he has just started his second year of formal education at Riverbank Elementary School. But those difficulties may pale in the face of another challenge Qais experiences.
Qais is autistic – unable to relate to the world in the ways most people take for granted. (His name is pronounced like “Case.”)
One of the things that works for him at school is the shared use of an iPad tablet computer, which he uses for, among other things, watching videos explaining how to have a simple human conversation.
His older sister, Waheeda, has been in the country longer than Qais, and helped explain his situation to the News-Ledger. Qais, his mother, and another sister came to the U.S. from Pakistan in 2010, after the children’s father died. Their native language is Pashtoo, and before coming to the U.S., Qais had never been to school.
He now has limited language skills and limited means to interact.
“He has severe autism. He started in 7th grade here, and is now in 8th,” said Waheeda Kakar. “The iPad seems to help. When I go to my mom’s, I sometimes give him my iPhone (a computerized smart phone) and he really enjoys that. He knows how to work with (the website) Youtube – I type in a musician’s name, and he scrolls through that musician’s videos.”
Qais also uses computers for simple videos on language skills, and for Sesame Street.
The family has limited income, and would like some help providing Qais with an iPad computer of his own.
“We hope that while he’s at home with the computer, he could learn more from his English videos, and his language skills could get better,” said Waheeda Kakar.
Anyone interested in helping can go online to www.giveforward.com/qais
Copyright News-Ledger 2012