By Sasha Shtern, CEO, Goally, LLC
If self-sufficiency is the path to independence for people with autism, technology can offer a roadmap through the twists and turns of daily life.
By definition, the neurodiverse process information differently, with each person likely having a different set of needs than the next. Recently, Covid-19 has added to the challenge of maintaining routines with most of the families I’ve talked with initially seeing noticeable regression in learning and other measures.
But there has been a bright side. These families have realized they can both customize and maintain their child’s learning through technology. We developed Goally to queue up routines and reminders for both the neurodiverse and special needs individuals, shifting time management out of the hands of parents and other caregivers and into an app.
The advantage of technology? Tech has some subtle advantages over typical caregivers. Apps such as Goally’s doesn’t get frustrated or angry. It doesn’t become impatient. It doesn’t suffer from burnout. It remains a calm, consistent, reliable touchpoint in what can be an unpredictable world.
As an example, through our web portal, caregivers create routines with timers and visual aids and the app displays those cues according to the schedule. Goally uses a dedicated device – essentially a smartphone without all the distractions, like texting, games and web browsing – to deliver the prompts and reminders to the learner. Even the most dedicated, focused individuals can be distracted by the fun sounds and bright lights of an iPhone.
The dedicated device combined with the Goally app reinforces the three T’s: Training, Teaching and Tenacity, in a customizable way specific to the learner. Each person’s goals are logically going to be somewhat unique.
There is a difference between the term neurodiverse and the term special needs and it is an important distinction. Neurodiverse learning simply identifies people who learn differently but who are not learning disabled.
For example, approximately 30 percent of kids with an autism diagnosis are not learning disabled. They just think and learn differently.
The three “T’s” of technology are helping both special needs and neurodiverse young adults transition to independent and group living. Technology such as Goally’s can help coordinate learners manage their daily routines – hygiene, meal prep, appointments, providing a level of self-reliance that may have not been thought possible without such aid.
The fundamental problem with both special needs and neurodiversity is there will never be enough service providers. Even if there were infinite resources available to support all of these kids, there aren’t enough behavior therapists, speech therapists, etc… to take on these roles.
That is why technology and the “Three T’s: are so vital; it delivers a reliable way to scale care for these families.
Without innovation, there will be no progress. We can’t do much more for these kids in the current service model. There literally aren’t more people to do the work. This space is an excellent opportunity for technology to lend a helping hand.
About the Author Sasha Shtern, CEO Goally, LLC
Sasha Shtern is CEO of Goally, a company dedicated to making software for special needs kids. Goally’s tools help parents implement at home the strategies professionals use in clinics and schools.
A successful serial entrepreneur, angel investor, co-organizer of Ethereum Denver, and co-founder of Rocky Mountain Blockchain, Shtern advocates for other serial entrepreneurs to move into social enterprises. In 2015 he co-founded Impact Makers Table, a nonprofit dedicated to channeling data-driven philanthropy. He is passionate about education policy and healthy eating for kids. Education University of Colorado, Denver and Harvard Business School. https://getgoally.com/