Sorry Meowee, I didn't pick up your son's unique needs in your post. Yes perhaps there are some kids who do well with a computer to support their communication. I know an autistic boy who always just sat and stared or banged his head on the wall. When he was given a computer he worked out how to use it and began writing very beautiful peotry. Following that he really began to open up. I admit he's at a Steiner school now, so I can't say if it's the computer or all the artistic work he does which has helped him more. The computer was like a door to a new world though. I had forgotten him, yes, I'll eat humble pie.
Leftfield I think by the computers nature it does indirectly affect childrens play and imagination. It provides instant intellectual stimulation which breaks the innocent and immatative aspects which are vital in play. I also distorts the 'human' aspect of play, adding only pre-programmed ideas to the child's imagination. Don't be fooled, humans imaginations are far superior to what the computer has been programmed to do. I hope people out there aren't taking Waldorf activities straight from books! It is a philosophy not a methodology. The way each child and adult approaches education is unique.
Salt Peanuts obviously computers are abundantly full of lang, math, reading etc resources. They are a fantastic tool. Thats why we use them. I had the pleasure of working with a graphic designer in my final highschool year as I was studying art. He was hopelessly inartistic in the fine arts way of speaking. He was good on his computer, he knew his applications intimately, it really helped him to be a graphic artist, to be creative. But he would have been fantastic had he only learnt two to draw too.
I think the key is that the computer is only a tool, not a personality, as Sp said. Therefore realise that it won't give your child the human responses they require for their physical security or emotional development. I believe this is what they need lots of during their preschool and primary (grade?) years, real teachers (like your way Charles!) and parents teach far more effectively from 'real life' than fancy pre-programmed computers.
But I think computers are great in high schools, fantastic for communication - hey I live a world a way from you all, isn't it great that you can ' hear' me?! (Even if you don't agree with me..!)I believe younger children really need to live in the 'real' physical world with continious emotional contact with caring people in their environment. Computers don't provide that and young children learn very quicky from them.
Great discussion, thanks!