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Tuesday, 08 November 2016

New App launched to help children and young people with autism in South Wales

Written by The Editorial Team

A new electronic mobile phone and tablet app developed by the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and partners has been launched to improve information sharing and support for children and young people with autism.

The ‘About Me’ app was created in response to feedback from young people with autism and will make it easier for people with autism to access, hold and share information about their condition with professionals.

The conversion to an electronic form was done in response to popular demand from the young people themselves. The app aims to put the child at the centre of clinical practice and will provide a low cost solution to information sharing.

Research carried out in the Health Board area highlighted that there was a need for improvement both during and after the diagnostic assessment of autism, particularly around the sharing of information which often resulted in the need to repeat an individual’s history at appointments.

The Autism Passport is an example of successful co-production between young people and health professionals. It went through the stages of development of a paper folder version at the Health Board, with young people with autism designing the folder together with health professionals.

Following requests for an electronic version a prototype App version was created by a talented young person with Autism, with support from Swansea University’s Health Tech fund.

Finally, the South East Wales Academic Health Science Partnership funded an NHS-academic-commercial partnership between the Centre for Autism Research Intervention and Diagnostic (CARIAD) team at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, Swansea University and Smyl Connect, which enabled the creation of the Android App. Development also took in the views of professionals across social services, the voluntary sector and technology providers.

The new mobile app, currently available on the Android platform, contains key information about a person with autism including a profile of their needs and strengths, a progress tracker of the assessment process and information about support services available.

Professor Alka Ahuja, a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and the leader of the project, said: “The ‘About Me’ app is easily accessible and enables young people and their families to share key information with services at times of emergency. The app will help to reduce anxiety and ensure the most suitable support is identified.
“It will shift information from being purely about professional assessment to being owned by the individual and empowering them to use it to improve their health and care.”

Minister for Social Services and Public Health, Rebecca Evans said: “For many years Wales has led the way in the development of innovative services and support for people with autism. This is continuing with the roll out of the all-age National Integrated Autism Service and our forthcoming refreshed Autistic Spectrum Disorder Strategic Action Plan.

 “The ‘About Me’ app is a fantastic contribution to these services. It is through listening to, and working with, people with autism that we gain a greater understanding of what can make a real difference to their lives and the lives of their families, and I am sure that this app will do just that. I would like to congratulate everyone who has worked on its development.”