AutisMate uses GPS and other personalization features to help those affected by autism navigate daily life more easily
The invention of the tablet has helped many children and adults with autism experience the world more freely. Because of these smart devices, those with autism are able to better navigate their world. A new app called AutisMate, which was released for the iPad on Jan. 29, was developed not only for the user to gain independence with its personalization features, but for families, therapists and schools to utilize as well.
New York City-based SpecialNeeds Ware designed the app with a very specific user in mind – a loved one. Jonathan Izak co-founded SpecialNeeds Ware with Ankit Agarwal and developed AutisMate for his now 12-year-old brother Oriel.
Izak distinctly remembers going out to play soccer with Oriel a few years ago and how his brother’s assisted device that he had to wear around his neck kept getting in the way. The device was isolating not helpful, and cost thousands of dollars. Izak wished and waited for technology to catch up to assisted systems, but for the cost and the quality; none were worth it. Enter the creation of AutisMate.
The app uses GPS to allow the user to travel room by room of their home, school, or any other place. Downloading photos of each area can customize these “scenes”. Hot spots then can be set up to in each scene to name a specific task, point out a favorite toy, or ask the user a question. For example, for the bathroom scene, hot spots can open to helpful videos on basic tasks like brushing your teeth and instructing them to wash their hands.
“Its approach is holistic and personalized,” said Izak. “It can grow with the user. And it will save families time with the personalized tools and demonstrations.”
Other noted features of AutisMate include a visual scheduler, sentence builder, content library with more than 40 voice options and thousands of SymbolStix symbols. In addition, there will be a growing inventory of images and videos available for purchase.
AutisMate was tested by more than 300 experts, including parents, clinicians, speech therapists and educators. This is SpecialNeeds Ware’s first product, but Izak said the company is already exploring how the app can be used in ways, like for stroke-recovery patients, those with down syndrome and cerebral palsy. Also, there are plans to make the program available for iPod and iPod Touch devices in the future.
AutisMate can be downloaded at the iTunes Store for $149.99.
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