Helping children with Autism communicate with their siblings

Bing, Erin, Sunjana

Since children with Autism have difficulties structuring their sentences, we created an interface that replaced words with categorized pictures of activities that they recognized. After choosing the activity, a short sentence will be generated by our website. A sibling or other family member can help the child with autism to speak the sentence out loud, which helps the child to build their confidence in communication. We also included helpful hints / tutorials on how to make interactions with special need children fun and enjoyable. We used HTML, CSS, Javascript, the materialize framework and the Google Translate API to create our website.

Children with autism have difficulty communicating what they want, although they know it innately.Thus, their non-special needs siblings have a hard time interacting with them. This not only causes them to feel discouraged, but also keeps the child with autism from developing a valuable connection with someone close to their age.

We are implement a feature that translates the selected pictures of activities into words. To make sure our website is appropriate for all children with autism, we break down the activities into three levels, so that siblings who just started to interact with special need children has a place to start and can build on their interactions as time progresses. After choosing an appropriate level for both the child with autism and the sibling, an activity page will pop up. We only included a few options on each page, so that children with autism won’t be overwhelmed. After the user chooses the picture of the desired activity, our website will form a sentence which effectively communicate what the special needs child wants. We also included an audio button that reads the sentence formed, so children with autism can practice speaking the sentence out loud at their own time. In addition, we have included a 'Helpful Hints' section, based on behavioral science, to guide teens every step of the way through their interactions with their special need sibling.

For our website, we aimed to create a personalized account for every user, so that they can easily refer to their most frequented conversation and add their own activity. All these features need a database, but we had a lot of difficulties using firebase, a database that our instructor recommended. After watching a bunch of tutorials and asking a lot of help from our teacher, we are able to get the login page working. However, we are still working on personalizing the profile page, so that the user can add their own favorites and change their profile pictures.

"It has the potential to help the entire demographic of the autism community."

Erin is a student at Middletown High School South in Middletown, NJ. She is an athlete and is on her school’s field hockey, swimming, and golf teams. The summer before her senior year, she participated in Girls Who Code where she found a passion for computer science. She is planning to study computer science and international business in college.

Bing is a student at Stuyvesant High School, Manhattan. She is very interested in computer science and has taken an intro class about it in sophomore year. She is also an active member of the Girls Who Code club in her school. In addition to programming, Bing enjoys reading, swimming and making origami during her free time.

Sunjana is a student at John P. Stevens High School in Edison, NJ, as well as a participant in the Girls Who Code 2017 summer immersion program. She originally gained inspiration for Just PicIt from her experiences growing up with her brother, who has autism. Wanting to help other siblings of special-needs children bond with their brothers and sisters, she teamed up with Bing and Erin to create the site. In her free time, Sunjana likes to play the viola, and she plans to study computer science in college.

This project was made by Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program students at AIG - Grace Hopper.