A New Zealand boy with severe autism can now communicate requests to play, eat or go to the bathroom clearly because of his father’s iPad app, Communicate Easy.
Ciaran (pronounced keer’-en) Lewis is seven years old but does not talk and needs help getting dressed and using the toilet. His father, Wayne Lewis, decided to improve the situation by putting his programming skills to work. A senior software developer by day, he spent over a year of his own time creating an iPad app that used pictures to communicate.
“I thought I could make something that he would get lots of use out of and I might actually be able to start making some good progress with him,” Lewis told TV3, a New Zealand television station.
His son can point to pictures on the iPad to tell his parents what he wants or wants to do. In turn, his parents can also use the app to tell him what they want him to do.
“It’s really helped him, he’s taken to the iPad with ease,” said Wayne. “Already, toilet training has improved markedly and he’s now able to do many of the steps himself. Ciaran’s ability to make choices has improved too as a result of the way the app presents clear information on the touch screen.”
Lewis developed the app when he saw his son having difficulties expressing his wants or needs. “Ciaran points to the pictures on the screen and we know what he needs, so it works both ways and cuts down on his frustration, so we have a few less tantrums too.”
Another useful feature allows his parents to set up a daily routine checklist for him to do. As each task is completed, he checks the task off. This gives him a sense of progress and accomplishment as well as clear instructions on what to do next.
The app is available on iTunes for $1.99. Lewis will donate all New Zealand sales to Autism NZ, while sales outside of the country go towards therapy and treatment for his son.