An app for autism
Apr 11, 2014
by Laura Smith
Flagler design students create prototypes for speech and language therapy
Last semester, students in Graphic Design Instructor Natalie Stephenson’s Interactive Design class developed concepts for iPad apps to be used in speech and language therapy sessions with autistic children.
The students’ design concepts targeted six specific children, from kindergarten to fifth grade, with different abilities and a range of interests.
“Many existing apps were found to be too expensive or poorly designed for their intended users,” said Stephenson. “In response, our students took a human-centered approach to design the new apps.”
Stephenson said the hope is to eventually provide well-designed and affordable apps that both speech language pathologists and parents can download.
The app concepts are both educational and entertaining. For example, one student’s design involves a beagle named Scout who leads users on scavenger hunts to identify objects commonly found in the grocery store, on a playground, in a toy store and at home. Children learn the name of objects and see them in context while playing an entertaining game.
Other concepts focused on developing social skills, expressive vocabulary and fine motor skills while interacting with playful characters like circus animals, dinosaurs and a goofy DJ.
After designing prototypes of their apps, the students pitched their ideas to speech-language pathologist and iPad mentor Dawn Lechwar from the Duval County School District.
“I was blown away by the work they did on this project,” said Lechwar. “They were genuinely interested in our kids, which came through in their presentations. Their ideas were phenomenal. I would love to have all of their apps on our iPads.”
Students who want to see their ideas through are currently in the process of applying for grants to secure funding for development.