Oftentimes, if you need a job done right, you do it yourself. A group of autistic teenagers recently created an exciting application, or app, destined to help kids like themselves fulfill their everyday tasks.
Dubbed LOLA, which stands for “Laugh Out Loud Aide,” the app aims to remind children on the autism spectrum to complete certain tasks that they may forget about, which could be due to a sensory overload that they experience. Moreover, functioning with a push-notification system, the app aims to create amusing reminders.
The teenagers who developed the app belong to Tech Kids Unlimited (TKU), a not-for-profit organization based in Brooklyn, where both Shema Kolainu and iCare4Autism are also located.
TKU’s founder, Beth Rosenberg, explained that LOLA was a wonderful way for the children “to be self advocates and to create something for themselves.”
“We want to be a part of the conversation. These students have an amazing ability to learn and create and have so much potential to offer society,” Rosenberg added.
LOLA won “Best Emotional/Social Solution” and the People’s Choice vote at New York University’s Connect Ability Challenge, aimed at inspiring participants to create technology that is helpful for people with disabilities.
The idea behind LOLA was imagined by Seth Truman, a member of TKU with Asperger’s, and his father, Greg, who used to write for “The Wiggles” kids television show. Seth finds it annoying when he is constantly reminded by his family or teachers to carry out a task that slipped his mind. LOLA aims to give reminders in a humorous way, instead.
LOLA enables tasks to be encoded and set to a particular time. For example, Seth may receive a push notification from LOLA every morning at 8 a.m., reminding him to brush his teeth. Along with the written reminder is a video animation, called a .gif, which displays the task at hand.
TKU’s application does not only attempt to render reminders more fun but also aims to reduce the number of reminders needed each day. Through operant conditioning, LOLA can train the user’s brain to transform soft skills into daily habits.
When a task is accepted, LOLA provides positive reinforcement in the form of a gold star and a congratulatory message. Declining to complete a task means receiving a grumpy face on the screen plus a phone lock-down of 10 seconds.
Until the app is launched on iTunes in September, there is more work is to be done. Tasks and .gifs will become more numerous, for example. A team setting that enables users to connect with their support groups will also become available. Reward charts will help motivate users to perform.
The app will most likely cost ¢99 in the iTunes store.
For more information about LOLA, view this video: http://connectability.devpost.com/submissions/38440-lola