Scottish student develops app to aid people with autism

A SOFTWARE engineering student has led a project to develop an app that could prove life-changing for people with autism.

Craig Docherty, 22, who has developed an app to help autism sufferers
Craig Docherty, 22, who has developed an app to help autism sufferers

Stirling University student Craig Docherty devised a clever app which allows those with autism to input key information about their likes and dislikes and preferred means of communication.

With help from fellow Stirling students Daniel Gibbs and Michael Baylis, and working in collaboration with Stirling and Clackmannanshire Councils, he designed a prototype after seeing a call for an app to assist people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with various tasks including preparing for hospital visits and meetings.

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The 22-year-old, Stirling University’s Computing Club vice-president, said: “We proposed a prototype to Stirling Council which we felt was simple to use and met the needs of our end-user.

“It was great to have our design selected and from there we worked with the council to produce a product that met the needs of their service users.

“We created self-selected font sizes and friendly colour schemes and added other capabilities including sharing information via email, a series of check lists, and emotion icons to help users share their feelings about a range of situations.

“It has been a great experience for Stirling University Computer Club to step outside the walls of the University and help make a difference in the wider community - working to develop a product that will hopefully be the first step towards a far more complete, integrated, user-friendly experience.”

Autism Development Officer at Stirling Council, Lorene Amet said: “Change is a big part of people’s lives and while it can be exciting for some, for others, particularly those with ASD, those changes can be harder to cope with. This new app aims to help with that process.

“Working with Craig and his team has been a very exciting new development for Stirling and Clackmannanshire Councils.

“This brought freshness and dynamism to the Autism Strategy and enabled the development of a novel technology tool that has the true potential to help the Autism community at large.

“The project received some seed funding from the Scottish Government and interest for the app was raised by several other Scottish Local Authorities.”

The app was launched by Stirling Council as part of Autism Awareness Month.