Having friends and family who personally deal with autism, I have seen the struggles that they go through in every aspect of their lives. Like many other parts of the healthcare sector, there are people working on making life easier for those who live with autism.
AutismSphere was founded by John Eder who came up with the idea while studying for his MBA. The full article describing the company can be found here, but the major ideas can be found below.
“The thing that gets me excited is building something that can be used all around the world,” Eder said. Eder has spent most of the last decade working in IT positions at Ernst & Young and Experian. He started AutismSphere due to experience with neurodevelopmental disorders. As a child, he had an attention awareness disorder.
While a typical student might expect a class schedule that simply lists the time and place for a class, Eder says an autistic child would want to know more specific details. Math class might be spent first studying problems, then taking a quiz, and then doing homework, for example.
The child could see another benefit: rewards. A reward might come in the form of a game that the child could unlock only upon completing a task.
Mesibov says that Eder has solid technical and computer skills. But what sets him apart from others is his understanding of autism and his progress in developing the type of application that will connect with the autism community.
“He’s as close as anybody to understanding how these things need to be adapted,” Mesibov said. Eder envisions making the software free in order to make it accessible to as many people as possible.
“This isn’t about making money, it’s about helping kids first,” Eder said. “That’s not an argument investors want to hear.”
It often takes someone going through a disease or disorder to want to do something about it. The fact that Eder had his own neurodevelopmental disorder gives him an understanding, and inspiration, that will help him to find success that others maynot be willing to go far enough to achieve.
Like so many other things in life, technology could make life so much better for these kids and their families. I really like the idea of unlocking games as rewards. This is already widely used across the internet and all gaming platforms for all types of people, but this may be even more effective for kids with autism.
The last statement is what says the most about this company to me, but may also be the thing that keeps it from really growing. That is really the paradox when it comes to developing these programs. Investors want to make money, but at the same time many of these programs may not be very profitable if they make any money.
What amazes me most about AutismSphere, and Mr. Eder in particular, is that it is currently funded entirely off of his retirement accounts. If that doesn’t show his devotion to truly helping kids I don’t know what could. Here’s hoping he can find the support he needs because I know we need some software like this.