The Autism Connection
Communicate Easy has been designed and developed by the father of a child who is on the autistic spectrum. His child, Ciaran, is 6 years old, non-verbal, and has major sensory and motor skill issues. Ciaran attends a special school where he has access to speech and occupational therapists, music therapy, and other daily events and therapies.
The parents have problems reaching through to Ciaran although he does communicate well in a non-verbal capacity and responds to visual prompts.
Building Communicate Easy
Communicate Easy is an iPad® application designed to provide a more direct path to Ciaran to allow him to make choices, follow daily schedules and receive visual prompts as to what is going to happen next. As Ciaran has problems with his motor skills, the user interface needs to be easy to understand and use. This has been adopted into the design which is kept simple and clean. The pictures and buttons in the picture communication system are designed to be easier to select and the navigation is very intuitive. Ciaran likes to use this application and responds well to the schedules and visual prompts. This provides a stronger motivation for his father to extend the application to make it easier to communicate and to get more interaction between parents and son.
The father is a software developer by trade but works with different software technologies in his day to day occupation. He has spent many long hours outside of his work to produce the application. He has adapted it for commercial use by making it more robust and improving the design so that other parents and caregivers may benefit by using it with their autistic and special needs children.
The EarlyBird Programme
Ciaran was diagnosed as being on the Autistic spectrum at the age of 2 after a long suspicion that something was not quite right. When Ciaran was around the age of 3 the parents attended a course designed to help parents of children with Autism. Known as the EarlyBird Programme, this was an excellent course that covered many aspects of Autism. This enabled Ciaran's parents to gain an understanding of Autism and become better equipped to understand and manage their son's behaviours and barriers. The course also involved other parents working together to help each other with their issues and troubleshooting.
Unfortunately, the government in New Zealand is cutting the funding for this very special course. Autism New Zealand is trying to gain private funding to keep the programme in action. For this reason, 100% of profits from sales made in New Zealand and 10% of sales from the rest of the world for Communicate Easy will go to Autism New Zealand to try to keep the EarlyBird Programme helping parents like Ciaran's.