March 3, 2019

A Mother's Story of Autism and Assistive Technology

How Tiimo app supports Marc, diagnosed with autism, throughout his day.

A Mother's Story of Autism and Assistive Technology

Marc is twelve years old and was diagnosed with autism at age four. From the day he was born, his mom Ria knew that there was something special about Marc. On and off, Marc struggled with change, uncertainty, and nervousness, which meant that Ria and Marc gradually built up tools that helped Marc feel safe in new spaces and cope with sensory overload. He had a hard time using pictograms so Ria started looking for an alternative and found the assistive tech app Tiimo, which has had a positive impact on the family ever since. This is their story.

Ria: I got to know Tiimo through a public health center in Denmark that supports communication while I was in search of alternative solutions to pictograms, which Marc had difficulties using. We were very lucky to try out the app during its development. After only one week of use it became so clear that Tiimo had everything that we were looking for.

We use different support tools at home to help Marc overcome sensory overload. Noise-cancelling headphones have been really helpful, as has playing with an iPad when Marc needs to focus in on something if the surrounding environment gets too stressful. We’ve found Tiimo to be an amazing complement to the tools we’re already using. Within only one week of using the app, Marc became way more independent when going through his daily routine. For the first time, Marc was brushing his teeth and putting on his clothes independently in the mornings.

Within only one week of using the app, Marc became way more independent when going through his daily routine. For the first time, Marc was brushing his teeth and putting on his clothes independently in the mornings.

We use Tiimo to give Marc a sense of peace, stability, and security, which basically means he has more energy at the end of the day. The app provides him with an overview of his daily schedule, reducing anxiety about unknown factors and giving him a sense of what’s to come via small vibrations in a smartwatch he wears.

Tiimo also supports him in getting through those tasks that aren’t his favorites by letting him know when the activity starts, when he’s halfway through, and celebrating with him when it’s done. He can always look down to his watch or iPad and see how much time is left of any given activity via a visual time bar and countdown to the next activity.

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Marc feels secure with this additional information about his day, which gives him more energy to cope with unforeseen sensory impressions. The watch is a great solution because it doesn’t take over the important function of the iPad and it’s always on and nearby. The watch also has the HUGE advantage of helping him through his mornings, because if he finds anything annoying then he becomes grumpy at the watch instead of me, and then looks to me to help him through the tough activity and feelings.

We love Tiimo. It has become an important daily assistant that has tangibly increased Marc’s independence. It has also made our everyday lives smoother. There’s more room to practice new skills and for other positive experiences for the whole family.

Honestly, after using it for a few weeks my only question was why this app wasn’t created before! Paint sticks with velcro and big binders full of pictograms are now history in our house (sidenote: I know these tools are invaluable for some families, but for us they never really worked perfectly, and worked less and less as Marc reached his adolescent years).

Tiimo is a modern planning tool that gives structure to everyday tasks, which includes a visual countdown timer. It’s a smart, digital alternative to pictograms and other analogue visuals. Since Tiimo is available on smartwatch it’s super portable and fits seamlessly into daily life. We can only highly highly recommend Tiimo to other parents!

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