CHICAGO — A Chicago family is desperate to find a lost tablet.

This is no ordinary tablet though. It’s an iPad with a special program on it that allows their nonverbal child, an 8-year-old boy named Ethan, to communicate with them.

Ethan using the customized iPad that helps him speak.

The family was celebrating Ethan’s eighth birthday Monday when tragedy struck and the iPad went missing. In their quest to find the missing tablet, the family searched the park on 28th and Trumbull, put up signs and posted to social media, but still have yet to uncover its location.

“They’re always living in their routine and when it changes, their whole world collapses, and that’s what’s happening,” said Noemi Lopez, Ethan’s aunt. “He’s always smiling, he’s always laughing, but since the loss of his tablet, he’s just sad and crying and cranky.”

Diagnosed with autism as a toddler, Ethan was gifted the customized iPad by Chicago Public Schools when he first started schooling. The family said the program on it learns and adapts to Ethan as he gets older, so that it can more effectively communicate for him, which makes it a lot harder to replace than any other given iPad.

“So, it’s basically growing with him as it goes and now at 8 years old, if we don’t get that one tablet back, it’s [like] we’re starting from zero,” Lopez said.

The family said they have been unable to track the iPad because it was issued through CPS, who has administrative privileges on the tablet.

The iPad is described as being in a hard, black rubber case with a black strap. If you or someone you know has information about where the iPad may be, the family can be contacted through a GoFundMe page.

If it is not recovered, those who are interested can make a donation toward getting a replacement on the same page.

“They don’t understand that this is his voice, this is his life. Without it, he cannot communicate,” Lopez said. “And people take it as, ‘just buy him another tablet,’ it’s not the tablet, it’s the program that it’s running on, and the information it has had for so many years, it’s his whole life.”

CPS released the following statement Friday:

Chicago Public Schools(CPS) aims to provide every student with a high-quality education with the necessary learning tools and resources. 

We expect the family should have a replacement device with the necessary software, called TouchChat, by next week. If anyone finds a device with a CPS screen, they can reach out to the contact info on the screen or even drop it off at their nearest CPS school.

Chicago Public Schools spokesperson