New Zealand software developer and dad Wayne Lewis has developed an iPad application to help reduce his autistic son Ciaran’s struggle expressing his simple wants and needs.
Called ‘Communicate Easy’ Wayne’s app is now available to children living with autism.
Wayne is a senior software developer with Datacom and he spent over a year of his own time building the iPad application geared towards helping his son and all kids with special learning needs.
His son Ciaran is acutely autistic and has trouble with the basics, he doesn't speak and needs help getting dressed and using the bathroom.
Wayne says, “It’s really helped him, he’s taken to the iPad with ease. 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.”
The Communicate Easy app works visually to set up a schedule for simple tasks, such as getting dressed or bath time and importantly using the app helps the seven year old understand what his parents want him to do next.
“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.”
Autism New Zealand chief executive Alison Molloy says, “Communicate Easy is something special. What impresses us is the fantastic way that Wayne Lewis has been able to draw on his professional skill as a developer and his lived experience as a father to Ciaran to develop something useful for children with autism globally.
This app does two things, firstly it provides certainty in terms of the information the children are receiving and secondly, the pictorial information enables a much easier transition to a task. So the app works to dial down the anxiety that children with autism experience and helps them to focus on what needs to be done with less stress and less anti-social behaviour.”
Autism New Zealand are currently trialling the app as part of a wider shift to using iPads to support the learning of children with autism.
Wayne Lewis is planning further enhancements to the app. 100% of NZ sales go to support Autism NZ and for sales outside New Zealand Wayne hopes to support further therapy and treatment for his son Ciaran.