Missing iPad used to help autistic child returned to family
Jan 22, 2013 (Richmond Times-Dispatch - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
A missing iPad that a Henrico County family used to help their autistic son communicate has been returned after it was brought to police, the child's mother said today.
Dilshad Ali said a detective brought the device to her home about 11 p.m. Monday.
Henrico police said the iPad was returned Monday and that a couple whose pictures were found on it are not suspects in the loss of the device.
Ali and her 12-year-old son lost track of the iPad while switching shopping carts about 10 days ago at a Target in Short Pump.
Ali said information on the iPad had been erased, so it will take the family time to re-establish the icons familiar to the son.
(This has been a breaking news update. Check back for more details as they become available. This morning's story from the Richmond Times-Dispatch is posted below.)
Daanish Ali never learned to speak. There was no "mom," no "dad," no "hungry," no "love."
He's 12 now, and still without the ability to convey his thoughts and emotions in spoken words. But a digital device -- almost as common these days as a toaster -- enabled the autistic Henrico boy to make his first steps into a new world of communication.
An iPad, whose screen and icons conveyed a thousand things that could not be spoken, helped Daanish to speak. Now that is gone as well.
In a bizarre chain of events that began some 10 days ago on a shopping trip to a Target store in Short Pump, Daanish and his mother, Dilshad Ali, lost track of the device switching shopping carts.
"We've gone through the security tapes and it's just not clear what could have happened," Ali said Monday. "It's there and then it's gone."
But there is evidence that the iPad has found its way into the hands of strangers.
The wonders of Internet cloud storage revealed to Dilshad late last week the images of a man and woman who apparently used the iPad to take pictures of themselves, or were photographed by someone else.
Ali is begging them to return the device, no questions asked, if it is in their possession.
"I'm not interested in charges. I'm not interested in why. We just want it back," she said.
The effort has drawn more than 1,000 responses on Target's Facebook page and Ali, a powerful voice in the Muslim community who blogs about her religious life and family, said her writing about the dilemma has been shared by more than 12,000 people.
The shock of seeing "19 photos of people I do not know" has proved how pervasive the Internet can be, but because the iPad's location device was never activated, finding the device online remains impossible.
"I know what time the pictures were taken, but not where," Ali said.
The cost of a new iPad is not prohibitive for the family. "We have received many, many offers to get our son a new one," Ali said. "We can afford one as well.
"The problem is that it has taken months and months of work to establish the icons and learning that my son needs to communicate. He has a temporary iPad, but it doesn't have the same look, the same icons that he reacts to. There is only one that is familiar to him and that he is comfortable with."
Daanish, who attends school at the Faison School for Autism, uses the device every day: from communicating his simplest needs, like the desire to take a shower, to trying to make the emotional connection between his feelings and his family.
"There's a button on the iPad to convey love, but he is still not sure when to use that," Ali said.
___ (c)2013 the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Va.) Visit the Richmond
Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Va.) at www.timesdispatch.com Distributed by MCT
[ Back To TMCnet.com's Homepage ]