Brother of Boy With Autism Releases iPad App
The older brother of Oriel, a 10 year old boy with autism, has released a communication and therapy tool for the iPad. The app, cleverly named AutisMate, allows users to add their own videos, pictures, and voice recordings to create visual scenes that promote functional and social skills, as well as communication.
Like many other children with autism, Oriel struggles with verbal 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 Jonathan Izak, Oriel’s older brother and founder of SpecialNeedsWare. In contrast, AutisMate uses GPS to present users with familiar scenes that are relevant to their current location and allows the user to interact with those scenes to communicate. On Oriel’s iPad, AutisMate is set up such that pressing on the star on the sink of the Kitchen scene brings up a video that demonstrates hand washing and plays a recording that says “I wash my hands in the sink,” while clicking on the fridge brings up pictures of Oriel’s favorite foods to select from.
The app also seeks to simplify the set-up process, which can be very time consuming with other communication options. “I found that parents and therapists felt the communication apps currently on the market were very limiting, over priced, and not user friendly,” says Jonathan. AutisMate boasts an intuitive user interface, and features like content sharing via e-mail, in-app customer support, easily resizable buttons, an extensive symbol library, natural sounding synthesized voices, and the ability to switch between users. The app is currently available on the iPad App Store, which also lists a number of exciting upcoming features.