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Autism Discovery Tool

Autism Discovery Tool Screenshot (iPad)
Accessible Product

Category: Healthcare, Education, Assistive Technology,

Nomination Details

Organization name: Spectrum Idea Lab Inc.

Launched Date: 2015-10-01

Who has created it: Lucas Pearson

Problem statement and how the Accessible Innovation solves the problem.

Sensory differences have been identified in over 90% of autistic individuals. These differences often go undetected or misunderstood by those around them, further contributing to the difficulties that sensory issues can bring. Kids and adults on the spectrum often develop compensatory methods of coping with the sensory issues, often interpreted by others as meaningless behaviours (i.e. aggression, tantrums, withdrawal, self-injury, stereotyped behaviours, etc.). Attention is often given to the overt behaviours seen in autism, without looking for the underlying causes (many times, the cause is sensory related!).

The Spectrum Idea Lab team spent 2 years of research and development in creating this powerful learning tool for the iPad called the Autism Discovery Tool, a mobile app that offers simplicity and clarity on a subject that is very complex and often misunderstood. The purpose of this app is to help open the conversation about sensory and autism through the scalable automation of experiences the iPad and mobile platform provides. Schools, arenas, shopping malls, city streets, and family homes are all sensory experiences impacting those around us. The Autism Discovery Tool empowers homes, schools, and communities to better understand and consider sensory diversity in daily life.

Tell us who is the target audience and how the accessible innovation will benefit them. Please specify the different target audiences groups and provide numbers and statistics of your current clients as well as what is the potential number of people that the innovation can impact and empower:

Autism rates worldwide are approximately 1%, with new reports indicating an increase to 1 in 45 children in the United States currently diagnosed with autism. The target audience for this app are kids and adults with autism, parents, siblings, extended family members, classmates, teachers, school staff, friends, neighbours, and any other community members that interact with autistic individuals such as librarians, retail staff, event hosts, etc.

When used by those on the autism spectrum, this app can help gain self-awareness and help facilitate communication and sharing about sensory issues. For others such as parents, grandparents, friends, classmates, etc., a better understanding and appreciation for the autism spectrum will arise from using the app, as well as knowledge of useful tools and strategies that can be easily implemented into many environments. Occupational Therapists, SLPs, teachers, and other professionals can also use this app for training purposes, during therapy, or to help parents and loved ones better understand their children's needs.

Having been on the market for only 60 days we are excited by the response we have received globally. Our sales are small and growing, and we feel there will be tremendous scale for this product as we become more widely available (iPhone and Android compatible, and language expansion). We think potential app unit sales in the millions are possible, and likely, given the need we see our product satisfying within the autism community globally.

How is the accessible innovative solution different from current practices or ways of solving the problem?

The topic of sensory and autism is complex and challenging. Lack of learning resources has prohibited the ability of this topic from being widely understood. Re-tooling this subject with technology was the goal of our project. The Autism Discovery Tool is different in how it breaks down the subject into bite size pieces of information and facilitates the experiences that are so helpful in building understanding, compassion, and acceptance. Using mobile devices as a platform, we are able to tackle the problem at scale and offer a global strategy in response.

How is the accessible innovative solution new, different or unique in terms of the technology or implementation?

Allowing users to navigate the seven senses while experienceing sensory variations associated with the autism spectrim is a new and powerful tool in the ability to share knowlege and spread compassion. The sensory strategies found throughout the app allow for the contextualized building of awareness. The Autism Discovery Tool also does a great job of utilizing the tablet experience to convey sensory differences, fusing technology with therapeutic value.

How do you get the innovative solution to reach the target audience? Please elaborate on the your go to market strategy and which geographies do you currently work in and what are your future plans for marketing your innovation.

Currently available worldwide on the Apple iTunes Store, the Autism Discovery Tool will also soon be available on Android. We have found social media effective in accessing our target market based on early data. The journey to more widespread adoption of our product will be facilitated though continued and active engagement with the people and communites embracing autism, mostly through social media.

What is the potential impact of the innovative solution on the lives of the target audience? Please elaborate by providing statistics of the current impact and the potential impact.

Promoting the awarness of sensory diversity and understanding can be impactful on a daily basis for so many, including those with autism. More friendly sensory environments in our homes, schools, and communites would impact everyone, most noteably those on the autism spectrum. Every home and community embracing autism could benefit from the Autism Discovery Tool.

Stories of how the Innovation has touched lives.

In its early phases of launch, we have heard some wonderful stories and received great feedback about how this app is being used in many settings currently: disability awareness training for teacher support aids and teachers; Occupational Therapists using it in sessions to help teach parents about sensory issues of their kids with autism; SLPs using it as a tool to encourage language development amongst sessions with kids with autism; classroom teachers are using it with their students in small groups to raise awareness and compassion, while reducing bullying for autistic students; technology consultants for school boards are recommending this app to help IEP team members and autistic students reach IEP goals; parents are using it with their children with autism and extended family members (grandparents, siblings) to better understand and function in their homes. This app has many potentials for implementation, based on its universal design and accessible features.

Links to a few videos about the innovation: