Autism. Communication support on i-phone
For any readers of this blog with non-verbal autistic children, you might be interested in the email I received below. She's invented a new app for i-phone which carries communications icons.
"Hello, my name is Yumi Kubo. I am a mother of an autistic son who is fifteen years old and lives in San Jose, California. I have created an application on the iPhone, and I was mailing you as if you could create an article about it. The product's name is Voice4u. It enables many children and adults to easily carry around communication icons for the verbally disabled, and be able to communicate smoothly. Please take a look at our website: http://voice4uaac.com/
My son, Wataru, was diagnosed with autism at the age of one. I was told that, "If his autism could be found this quickly, the possibilities of him even being able to speak are close to zero." Upon hearing this, I took it as, "You will never be able to have a conversation with this child and never have a form of communication with him forever." And I felt as though I was pushed off of a cliff. During that time, I cared for my son, hoping that he would say at least one word. During the time, I heard that autistic children had a much easier time communicating through pictures rather than words, so I carried around a binder full of icons, which weighed about 10-20 pounds.
Also, I always carried around all of the clothes, toys, foods, and books my son would always want, which made it impossible to hug him when he gets into a panic in a public place, and even more impossible to even hold his hand. My hands were always filled with all of the things he needed. I, as a mother, would always want to give my son a hug when he is trying to get used to a new area, like any other mother would want to hug her son. I knew my son needed the support too. But, Wataru's icon binder was always in the way and I could never hug him because of it. But now, with the icons in my iPhone, I am able to hug and help my son anywhere at anytime. I actually feel like a real mother now.
At first, I was thinking of doing this project as a weekend hobby. But the more I talk about this app, the more people strongly recommended me to make this business. It was because there were many mothers like me who have autistic children, since there is at least one autistic child out of every 110 children in America. In fact, some people asked for investing opportunities. So, I decided to incorporate this business with people from variety fields: entrepreneurs with successful experience in Silicon Valley, an expert of software engineering, and a co-founder with Ph.D. in rocket science from Stanford.
My co-founder has tutored my son for about 3 years while he was studying at Stanford. When he finished his Ph.D. this year, he had several opportunities to working toward aerospace research, but he decided to dedicate himself to support autism (and other development delays) through modern rocket science technology. According to him, "I spent a quarter of my life to study just for my interest. But now, I want to help people by applying what I've gained through education. There are a number of people who immediately need supports and solutions. I should solve problems on Earth first rather than in the universe."