VirtualOT

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Australia
I am an Australian occupational therapist, educator and researcher. I have worked as an OT in mental health, vocational rehabilitation and a private surgical hospital. I am passionate using online technology to enhance the knowledge and growth of the occupational therapy profession. In my PhD research I am looking at the role of online technologies in information management and knowledge transfer in occupational therapy. Views expressed and stories shared on this blog are my opinion and do not represent views of my employer or professional registration body.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The touching voice of autism: A communication App for iPhone, iPad, iTouch

2 March, 2011 4:59PM AEDT
By Rob Harris (Statewide Drive Victoria)

Lisa Domican's creative mind has given her daughter a most valuable gift - a voice.

The mother of two autistic children,
Grace and her mother Lisa Domican (picture from ABC Drive website)

who hails from Ballarat but now lives with her family in Ireland, has developed a picture-based application for smart phones and electronic tablets which help children with autism to communicate.

Ms Domican's son Liam was diagnosed in the Royal Brisbane Hospital in 2000, while Grace was diagnosed by a paediatrician in Ballarat in 2001, just before the family moved abroad.

The technology is tailored to meet the needs of individual children and helps them communicate through pictures on a touch screen.

Ms Domican, who last year was awarded a United Nations award at World Summit Award Mobile for e-Learning and education, named the application Grace app - in honour of her 11-year-old daughter.

"Grace was my research team and the other kids in her school also tested it," Ms Domican said.

"I didn't really have a clue what to do, but I was reading a blog about a developer who making about 5000 euros a week making games. I wrote to him and he said it sounded like a great thing and then we met."

Ms Domican said the application was made available through application stores last year and that she was planning to introduce the technology throughout autistic education around the world.

Grace app will be made available to download for free from April 1 to April 3 as a part of Autism Month.

6 comments:

Dani said...

Oh wow, I'd love to try this app out, especially as I'm about to go on placement in an adolescent mental health hospital. I'm so interested in what technology has to offer, and I'm quite impressed that a mother and a game developer managed to work together to make this app. I'll try to remember to download it come April to check it out!

Hammie aka lisadom said...

Hi There! now I know why so many Aussie OTs have been contacting me for the manual. And even better, they seem to understand that Grace App is FOR the user and not a tool for teaching pragmatics etc.
Thanks so much for sharing. All the Aussies tuned in on World Autism Day to get the App for Free. If any of your readers want the manual they can just email me at
graceappmanualATgmailDOTcom

Anita Hamilton said...

Hi Lisa, I am so glad you were contacted by so many people. I have also shown the app to my OT students here in Canada to help them see that they are not out there to "fix" things for their clients, but to walk along side them on the journey, helping them when things get too complex to manage alone. Being collaborative problem solvers!
I would love to know who your developer was as I'd love to interview them about developing apps like these.
Cheers, Anita

Elise said...

Thank you to the amazing people in this world who do amazing work like this to give people an option.
Anita thank you for the reminder that OT is not necessary a "fix" but a journey. As a student I sometimes find the shiny presentation of assistive technology we are exposed to can sometimes lose this approach. It is nice to be reminded that consideration should be given to its use.

Anita Hamilton said...

Thanks for stopping by Elise, so glad you agree with the sentiment of the journey not the "fix" :) I think you are on the right foot for starting out into the profession for sure! I wonder how you knew this so soon? Great teachers? Your own life experiences? Maybe both.

I see you have your own blog also. That's a great way to start as a critically reflective practitioner, well done. I really hope you decide to keep it up.

All the best with the remainder of your studies. See you in the virtual OT field perhaps :)
Cheers, Anita

Elise said...

Hi Anita
Sorry this reply has taken so long to write. Thank you for your well wishes, I am defiantly very lucky to be enrolled in such a great course with passionate teachers. I am hoping to come to Canada for a 5 week clinical placement this winter and can’t wait to soak up a new experience. Thank you for your blog of information and all the best for whatever the rest of the year brings.
Cheers, Elise

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