A little compassion, zeal for problem solving, and a sketch on a napkin can do wonders to bring real world solutions for some people! Today's post is written by Amberlynn Gifford, an occupational therapy student, who helped a student diagnosed with dysgraphia keep up with his peers by developing an iPad app for him.
Steven* is a 5th grader that I met during my occupational therapy fieldwork this spring. He is diagnosed with Dysgraphia however his mind is sharp, but his handwriting is so messy that he can't even read his own writing. His OT tried countless ways to help him improve his penmanship but nothing seemed to work. The caring OT went so far as to scan his worksheets into a computer but that consumed too much time during class was quite a hassle. Even worse, Steven was very frustrated and getting left behind in class because he couldn't complete the worksheets with the rest of his peers.
I thought that there had to be a better way to help Steven keep up with the other kids in his class. Then I had an idea, what if Steven could take a picture of his worksheet using an iPad and then type his answers directly on the screen? I searched all over the app store, but there was nothing that did what I wanted. Well, there were a few apps but they were designed for business people and were far too complex for a child to use.
So I sketched out my idea on a napkin and shared it with Steven's OT. She loved the idea. So I put together a detailed mockup of the app and worked with a developer to build it. A few weeks and a few dollars later, I had a working app!
Steven's OT and teacher are thrilled. However, the real joy comes from seeing Steven use the app. It's effortless for him to take a picture of a worksheet and use the iPad keyboard to type in the answers. He's no longer left behind in class and is now more confident than ever! While he continues to work on his penmanship, he's now able to keep up with his peers.
SnapType is an iPad app that anyone can use. It's available on the app store for free and I'm hoping to help as many kids as I can by reaching out to OTs, teachers and parents.
*Name changed for privacy.
Amberlynn Gifford is a 2nd year OT student at Springfield College in Massachusetts. When she's not studying, which is rare, you can find her coaching gymnastics and working on all sorts of creative projects. She will graduate with her masters degree in 2016 and looks forward to working in pediatrics. Connect with Amberlynn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/amberlynngifford