DURHAM, N.C. — A mom is developing a new app to help kids on the autism spectrum be more independent.
Tracey Hawkins is the mother of two sons with autism, James Preston and Adam. She got the idea when her first grader, James Preston, was transitioning into pre-K two years ago.
"It was a rough transition," Hawkins said. "It was a transition full of behavioral outbursts, emotional outbursts, and I just know it was his way of communicating that he was not feeling comfortable."
It's a similar type of new environment and transition that virtual learning is bringing this year. Hawkins is focused on keeping her son on a strict schedule, which works best for him.
"Changes in his routine, changes in his classroom, his schedule, his peers, and teachers, it will kind of throw him off a bit...I wanted to be able to help my child at a time when he needed it the most," Hawkins said.
Her app, THRIVE, plans to do that.
"What is currently out there is a lot of single feature assistive technologies. My kids and other kids like James Preston need more than just one feature," she said.
Through an Apple Watch, for example, THRIVE will enable parents to draw geo-fence locations to see where their children are and will enable teachers, parents, and providers to communicate on one platform. It will feature a schedule, monitor heart rate to send self-regulation reminders, and have a rewards bank for the children.
"It was something that was needed, and something that was not on the market as comprehensive as we have designed here," Hawkins said.
Hawkins' business has free tips and support groups for parents.
She is currently crowdfunding for the app, halfway to her $20,000 goal to start development.