DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – In the hands of many kids, high tech gadgets are little more than pricey, plug-in toys.

But, at the Notre Dame School of Dallas, which serves special needs students, this same technology is being used to change lives.

“Our students learn from what they see around them,” says Principal Theresa Francis. “The visuals that the iPad gives them in tremendous.”

So on this day, with an iPad providing step-by-step photo instructions, this class is baking a Mardis di Gras king cake… in another, students are learning how to recognize and respond to medical emergencies.

“Lots of repetition, so where a ‘normal’ child may take one time to learn a skill, our students may need 10 times to learn that skill”, says Francis, “they may need to always come back to a visual schedule or a visual cue to help them accomplish that task. That’s where these iPads have been a life changing opportunity for our students.”

Educators also point to the interactive qualities of the iPad as being especially engaging and helpful to students with learning challenges.

“It can speak to ’em, so even if they can’t read it, they can speak it,” says Linda Rush. Rush is a nationally recognized expert in technology integration for special needs children.

“Our kids can’t spell… so for them to be able to find information, by going to Wikipedia or to the web to find information on a topic that they’re reading about… I just think that is just truly awesome.”

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