At the risk of giving away a great idea….
Last year I met with some folks about the development of an app that would allow parents to create their own social stories. Social stories are an incredibly important part of helping children on the spectrum deal with life. Some examples? Read Day #12 – My Emoticon, Day #19 – I’m a Colts Fan, Day #20 – The Turtle and the Hare (Part 2), Day #77 – For Families, and/or Day #78 – Hostess with the Mostess.
Several apps like this exist, but this would be a bit different. The app would have a bit of a template to work from and then allow parents/caregivers/teachers to insert their own pictures/names. What happened from that meeting was incredible.
It all began by working with the founder of b-Calm. The b-Calm system includes a set of headphones and tablet that allows the user to have control of the sound in the environment they are residing. The b-Calm system has been proven to reduce off task behaviors and irritability. Disturbing sounds are blocked and replaced with familiar and soothing sounds. It’s much about association. If you associate ‘good’ with a certain sound, it will more likely calm you; likewise, if you associate distress with a certain sound, it will likely cause anxiety.
How did b-Calm come about? In 2007, Dr. Ken Budke, a local dentist, led a passionate and dedicated team of professionals to develop a tool that would help patients who struggled with the sounds of dental drills. It worked so well that it became an intervention tool used for those struggling with sensory challenges due to autism and/or ADD/ADHD. Be sure to check out the website for more information: http://www.b-calmsound.com/about-us/
So – I left this meeting feeling very good about the possibilities. Then, Derek, a representative from a local app development company contacted me about being involved in the development process. I ‘one-upped’ him and asked if they would prefer to have Tucker. The app would most likely be for someone like him – wouldn’t it make sense for him to help develop the app?
First, Tucker was excited about getting out of school for the day.
Second, Tucker was excited that he got to go out to eat with just mom.
Third, he was jacked about getting a free t-shirt.
Fourth, he was fired up about the ‘workspace’ that is this company.
There was a ping-pong table and soda/snack machines.
What a GREAT conversation we had about movement – and about how he needs movement for his brain to get (and stay) engaged. My retired PE teacher bonus mom (mother-in-law to some – but she’s a total bonus) is jumping up and down right now.
Tucker had no idea that some places of work would have ping-pong…and really cool chairs.
Chairs that roll in a 360 degree circle if you lean back. The first go-around that required trusting the chair was difficult, but once he got the hang of it – watch out!!! Round and round he went….
Once we got that out-of-the-way Derek told him about the app. He explained the purpose of the app, what they wanted the app to be able to do, and he asked, “Tucker, do you think you can help us? I really need you to help me make this into something that would work for thinkers like you.”
That is good stuff right there.
So after a short explanation, Tucker got to work explaining what would work. Then – he asked if he could use the giant white board and all the colors of markers. Derek said, ‘go for it.’
Then this happened…different colors, different boxes, different options…
There he is, on the left – drawing, designing, and talking about what the app should look like while Derek sits and listens. Now, Derek *may* have been one of my former students – so he knew a little about Tuck – but I was so proud of his interaction. He allowed Tucker to just talk and create and get it all out there – once he was finished, Derek moved in.
Then, it became serious. They begin to talk through screen size and development, menu options, colors, and text sizes. They talked links and what was missing. They talked about what was good and what could be better.
All the while…I sat back. I know, it’s shocking – but I did. I sat back and didn’t say a word.
When they finished, Derek gave him a soda.
When they finished, Tucker was all smiles.
When they finished, my buttons were popping. Not because he helped to create this thing – but because he has a very unique understanding of who he is. He was able to comment on how he would want the app to look and behave.
Even moreso, because he has an understanding of the spectrum in general. He was able to comment on how others with ‘worse autism’ (his words) would need the app to look and behave.
This child of mine? He may not know it yet, but he’s going places…