When your child is diagnosed with autism, a million questions begin running through your mind. “How do I help him/her?” “How do I find a doctor that I know is qualified” “How am I going to pay for this?” “How can I effectively help my child in their development?” Many of these answers are dependent a variety of different factors and the nature of your specific situation.
Nowadays, whenever a “how-to” question is posed, typically one of two answers are given; A) ‘Google That’ or B) ‘There’s an app for that.”. The latter of course is referring to Apple’s revolutionary iPhone and iPod, both of which feature download-able applications (“apps”). There are apps available that assist you in a variety of tasks ranging from getting a cocktail recipe to ordering movie ticks and booking a hotel room. Even more impressive is the possibility that there will soon be an app available targeted to help children with autism.
Lisa Domican lives in Dublin, Ireland and is the mother of two children with Autism; Liam (11) and Grace (9). With both Liam and Grace, Lisa has practiced Picture Exchange Communication, also known as PECS which is an alternative form of communication that enables children to use pictures instead of words to create sentences and communicate.
“You are constantly having to replace loose cards and make new ones,” said Ms Domican. So out of that came the idea to develop an iPhone application that would make the process more efficient. Coincidentally, the application was created under the name “Grace”, her 9 year old daughter.
“With the iPhone, the screen looks like a Pecs book. It’s ok to have a four-year-old walking around with a Pecs book; it’s not ok for a 10 or 12-year-old. They’re very personal to the kids; it’s their voice. The [Pecs books] really stand out, whereas the iPhone is discreet and always there.”
Domican collaborated with Steven Troughton-Smith, a software developer for the iPhone who has created a number of bestselling applications. The application is backed by O2 Ireland who supplied the devices and testing for the application while it was in development stage. Domican’s daughter, Grace has become so comfortable with the device that she adds her own pictures to the PECS library with her iPhone Camera.
The application is still undergoing testing at a few schools to see if parents, students and teachers can use the application easily. Once approved, it will be sent to the Apple iPhone application store.