Making a complex app child’s play
Visual schedules have a significant role for developing social and cognitive skills in children with autism related disorders and can help improve communication with their carers – family, friends and professional staff in learning centres and schools.
Yen Lim, a former Applied Behavioural Analysis therapist who is currently completing her postgraduate qualifications in clinical psychology, had an idea for an app for children with communication difficulties. Her approach is based on her own professional experiences and having observed the work of, and tools available to, her husband, a teacher in a high support special school.
Researching the availability of Augmented and Alternative Communication systems (AACs) Yen was surprised by the limited options. She realised there was scope to develop an app for individuals with special needs, which included exciting and beautifully designed features to rival the learning tools available to typically developing children. So she embarked on a 15-month journey to create Pic-See, an interactive tool for iPads and tablets for use in one-on-one and in small group situations (up to 10 users).
The original concept behind Pic-See was to make it easier to build and deliver visual sequences, not only to replace paper-based AACs but also to engage users in order to make visually-based learning fun. To achieve this, the characters of Sam and Millie were created to capture the attention and imagination of children, who identify with their favourite cartoon characters.
In six months, Art of Multimedia developed the cross platform app which includes vibrant images and animations, a sequence building centre, the ability to customise visuals with imported images, sound effects, the ability to record audio to promote verbal communication skills, an emotions centre, a choice board, and a data centre to capture the achievements of users and areas for further development.
“What I thought would be a straightforward app to develop, soon turned out to be a highly complicated technical project. However, from initial contact to the end product, the team at Art of Multimedia used their expertise to “decode” my abstract vision and simple sketches into the beautifully designed and functional app it has become.”
“They also took the time to understand the major educational and therapeutic concepts behind Pic-See and also took great care to respect the complexities of individuals with special needs,” says Yen.
“Throughout the process, AOM have been crucial in helping me crystallise ideas for future versions of Pic-See whilst respectfully reigning in the flurry of ideas I have had over the last year! I am thoroughly excited about the ongoing opportunity to work with AOM on new updates and versions of Pic-See in the years to come.”
Pic-See is available in three versions. Pic-See Lite is a free version providing a limited introduction to its capabilities. Pic-See can be used by two people. Pic-See Collective is for small group learning environments. All are available from the App Store and Google Play. Visit the Pic-See website for more information.
Yen talks about how Art of Multimedia helped realise her idea.
View this video to hear Yen’s Pic-See story first hand.