Cary man creates iPad app for individuals with autism

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CARY – After 25 years of working in special education, Victor Morris wanted to assist individuals with disabilities even further.

Nine months later, he has done just that.

Morris created Augie AAC (Augmented Alternative Communication), an application for the iPad that assists people with autism and their families.

“Augie provides a means of functional communication for people who struggle with language; they can’t talk,” Morris said. “This gives them a common vocabulary to communicate and express their needs, wants, likes and dislikes, in the easiest way possible. [The app] gives them a daily schedule to support self-regulation and behavioral patterns.

“This can have a real positive impact on people’s lives.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, autism appears within the first three years of life and affects the brain’s normal development of social and communication skills.

The app, which was released June 9 and available via the Apple Store for $159, contains voice-output communication and can be used anywhere.

The Cary native noted that while similar concepts have been produced in the past, none of them have been particularly easy to use and were costly, ranging from between $6,000 to $8,000.

“I chose the iPad because it’s such a diverse platform and is relatively inexpensive,” Morris said. “The interface is easy for people to use, and there is a high level of accessibility for people with disabilities.”

Most features are accessible with the One Touch communication dock, as its icons are intended for easy and direct access. Those icons include cues that are necessary for the family of an autistic son or daughter to hear. For example, there are “yes” and “no” response buttons, among others.

Before the app was cleared for release, Morris sought beta testers to gauge whether these features were desirable for consumers. After families had one month with the product, Morris said he received “overwhelmingly positive feedback.”

Although Morris hasn’t corresponded with any area school districts or autism centers about utilizing Augie, he said he’d like to do so in the near future.

However, Augie is set to receive national exposure rather quickly. The app is being featured later this month at an autism conference in San Diego and was scheduled to be presented this week at a conference in Madison, Wis.

Michelle Carey and her family were one of four to test the app locally, and said she was impressed by its capabilities from day one. Carey’s 6-year old son, Liam, has autism.

“We really liked it,” Carey said. “There are many useful things that we can implement on a daily basis, and it was easy to use. I’d absolutely recommend [the app] to someone else.”CARY – After 25 years of working in special education, Victor Morris wanted to assist individuals with disabilities even further.

Nine months later, he has done just that.

Morris created Augie AAC (Augmented Alternative Communication), an application for the iPad that assists people with autism and their families.

“Augie provides a means of functional communication for people who struggle with language; they can’t talk,” Morris said. “This gives them a common vocabulary to communicate and express their needs, wants, likes and dislikes, in the easiest way possible. [The app] gives them a daily schedule to support self-regulation and behavioral patterns.

“This can have a real positive impact on people’s lives.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, autism appears within the first three years of life and affects the brain’s normal development of social and communication skills.

The app, which was released June 9 and is available via the Apple Store for $159, contains voice-output communication and can be used anywhere.

The Cary native noted that while similar concepts have been produced in the past, none of them have been particularly easy to use and were costly, ranging from between $6,000 to $8,000.

“I chose the iPad because it’s such a diverse platform and is relatively inexpensive,” Morris said. “The interface is easy for people to use, and there is a high level of accessibility for people with disabilities.”

Most features are accessible with the One Touch communication dock, as its icons are intended for easy and direct access. Those icons include cues that are necessary for the family of an autistic son or daughter to hear. For example, there are “yes” and “no” response buttons, among others.

Before the app was cleared for release, Morris sought beta testers to gauge whether these features were desirable for consumers. After families had one month with the product, Morris said he received “overwhelmingly positive feedback.”

Although Morris hasn’t corresponded with any area school districts or autism centers about utilizing Augie, he said he would like to do so in the near future.

However, Augie is set to receive national exposure rather quickly. The app will be feature this month at an autism conference in San Diego and was scheduled to be presented this week at a conference in Madison, Wis.

Michelle Carey and her family were one of four to test the app locally. She said she was impressed by its capabilities from the get-go. Carey’s 6-year old son, Liam, has autism.

“We really liked it,” Carey said. “There are many useful things that we can implement on a daily basis, and it was easy to use. I’d absolutely recommend [the app] to someone else.”

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