Pipette Hacks for Autism
I snuck away from Rock Health last Tuesday to volunteer my time at the Hacking Autism event. The hackathon brought developers, designers, artists, and parents from all over California to build applications for children on the autism spectrum.
Before the event, HP and Goodby put out an open-call for ideas. Hundreds of ideas for apps were submitted and 7 were selected. It was our responsibility to prove these ideas were possible and then open source what we built to the larger community.
The team I was on was amazing. We had never met before, but we all found ways to play to our strengths. Our app was called Blocks. It was an iPad application that helped parents create ‘Social Stories’.
Allison, a parent of a child on the spectrum, was on our team and she coached us on the importance of social stories. Children on the spectrum react better to situations when they are able to walk through them before hand. Parents today use flashcards or draw their own.
Using our app, a parent can select from a series of photos and illustrations. The photos are of different places, objects, and events. The illustrations are of different environmental triggers like “hot” or “loud”. The illustrations were beautifully drawn by Mary.
Once a story is created, it can be played back as many times as a parent or child wants.
The app has a lot of open ends, but it works as a prototype. Mad props to Patrick who was the main developer on the project. He brought life to the UI that I crafted.
What’s next? There’s a lot of things we wanted to do, but there wasn’t enough time. We made a list of features that would make this app amazing:
- Ability to add captions for photos
- Ability to add audio recordings
- A marketplace for parents to share stories that they have created with other parents
- Ability to upload a photo of your child and it to be automatically superimposed on the illustrations
- Ability to pull photos from Flickr and Facebook
If you like what this app can do, please carry the baton forward. The project is hosted on Github, so fork away.