The older brother of a child with autism has released an iPad app designed to be a communication and therapy tool for people with autism.
AutisMate allows you to add your own pictures, videos and voice recordings to the app. The goal: to create visual scenes that help promote social skills and communication.
The app was created by Jonathan Izak to help his 10 year-old brother Oriel, and other children with autism who struggle with communication.
“The design of the communication apps that were available required too much navigation for those with the language and generalization issues often associated with autism,” says Izak, founder of SpecialNeedsWare.
The app uses the iPad’s GPS to present users with scenes that are relevant to their current location. For instance, on Oriel’s iPad, pressing a star on the sink in the kitchen scene will bring up a video that demonstrates how to wash your hands in the sink.
Clicking on the fridge will bring up a pictures of Oriel’s favorite foods so he can pick something he would like to eat.
The app has over 12,000 included symbols, custom voice recordings, and synthesized voices to fully and easily customize the app for its user’s current and future needs. The app also offers the option to set multiple phrases to the same picture/button throughout to promote generalization.
For instance, one time a button may say “Can I have some milk?” The next time it may say “May I have some milk please?”
“I found that parents and therapists felt the communication apps currently on the market were very limiting, over priced, and not user friendly,” says Izak.
AutisMate has an intuitive interface, and in-app customer support. Content within the app can be shared via email, and the app supports multiple users, so it could be used by therapists who work with several different autistic children.
Future updates to AutisMate are expected to bring features such as in-scene task analysis (step by step video/picture guides to accomplishing a task), Visual schedules with a reward/incentive for completing all tasks, and an In-app text to speech keyboard for users that can type.