When Lori Jackson and Steve Peck, founders of The Connections Model (www.theconnectionsmodel.com), wanted to create a new app specifically designed to help children on the autism spectrum manage their behavior in class they turned to Rocket Farm Studios.
“We have been in education for fifteen years working with kids on the spectrum with major disabilities,” said Jackson. “Because these children with complex global disabilities don’t understand their emotions and how to express them, they often resort to anger or just shut down. The app we wanted to create came from this issue that takes them out of their classrooms, from their place of learning. Due to their behavior, they were missing class 50 to 70 percent of the time.”
Peck designed a prototype of KidConnect, an app used by both educators and students to help identify the emotions they were feeling and how to express these emotions in a constructive way. This early version showed amazing results when tested with students.
“These kids use the app, work through their emotions, and then get reengaged in class,” Jackson said. “They don’t have to leave the room at all. They learn strategies to use instead of anger or withdrawing. They learn better behaviors and what their feelings mean. The outcome is they spent 75 to 80 percent of the time in class.”
Eager to get the program in the hands of educators, Jackson and Peck met with Rocket Farm Studios to create the app. In addition to the program for children, the app grew to have a second component for administrators and educators.
- For ease of use for both types of users, the app was designed to run in portrait mode for educators and in landscape for the children. A PIN protection was added as well to prevent children from circumventing the app in anyway.
- The KidConnect app allows for extensive customization which was necessary to cater to the range of student abilities. For example, the app can store video of students as they use it but can be turned off for children who react negatively to seeing themselves on video. In this and many other ways, educators can tailor the app to individuals.
- The app captures a range of data during each use including the time of the incident, the class, the outcome of the child using the program, and more. As more data is collected with each use, Jackson and Peck hope to not only improve the user experience, but also draw additional insights into how children with autism behave and how they cope in real-world situations.
The Customer Experience:
“We spoke with three or four other mobile app developers but when we were connected to Rocket Farm, we thought ‘ok, these guys totally get what we’re trying to do,’” Jackson said, speaking of her positive experience. “They not only ran with the idea, they loved the idea and were genuinely excited about the app.”
“We were involved in the entire process and ended up with the app that we wanted. It was an absolutely positive experience working with Rocket Farm. They showed a real commitment to want to work with us, believed in our idea, and displayed a social consciousness as well.”
The KidConnect app is available on iTunes. Download it here.