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​The Impact of Technology

- by Maia Idzikowski

A multitude of new apps developed by individuals with intellectual disabilities have proven to be extremely helpful for self-advocates.

Apps range from communication aids to programs that aim to develop life skills.

The LOLA (Laugh Out Loud Aid) is a “program that helps people with special needs develop daily life skills through funny reminders”. Individuals can challenge themselves through these humorous and light-hearted reminders multiple times throughout the day.

Below: LOLA App reminds a user to brush their teeth

The inspiration for this app? Seth Truman, a 13-year-old was feeling frustrated by constant reminders from adults regarding how to behave in public. Thus, in partnering with Tech Kids Unlimited, a non-profit organization specializing in education and technology, Seth developed the LOLA app.

Another helpful program, entitled the “Emergency Chat App” developed by Jeroen De Busser, allows individuals to communicate via phone during a stressful situation. Jeroen is a computer science student who has autism. He understands that during a panic attack, it is possible to go completely non-verbal due to high amounts of stress and anxiety. The Emergency Chat app is text-based, and “displays personalized instructions on how to assist or handle an individual during a meltdown or panic attack, instead of wasting precious time in trying to parse through verbal communication”.

The app saves individuals from the worry that they will not be able to communicate in the event of an emergency. Now, all they have to do is give their phone to the people trying to help, and the app will explain the situation and provide a bare-bones chat interface to communicate over.

While the app is currently being used by over 500 individuals on the Autism Spectrum, several individuals with PTSD or a tracheostomy have also customized the settings to fit their medical condition.

Click here to read more about the LOLA app.

To learn more, about the Emergency Chat app, read this article.