Two weeks ago I visited a boy named Love and his mother Elisabeth. Love has autism, which can be very difficult for him some days. This day, something has happened during the day so Love is very frustrated. Even when his mother tries to talk to him so he looks down on his iPad and gets angry. Elizabeth explains for me that Love has had a bad day today. She doesn’t know what happened or what went wrong, and she gets no answer from Love when she asks him. It’s clear that Elizabeth is worried because she doesn’t know what has happened. If something unexpected happens during the day, or something that Love doesn’t like, he can carry that frustration all day long. Everything around Love feels just too much right now so the only thing he cares about is his iPad and the apps in it. Usually Elisabeth tells Love in the evening what will happen tomorrow morning, so he is prepared. But this evening it is hard to give him this information.
I presented my phone and showed Love the DayCape app. I had already prepared the app to show pictures of what Love will do tomorrow, and I even used a picture of his favourite toy to illustrate “play time”. It takes a while, but Love eventually begins scrolling through the images curiously. Elisabeth sits down with him and tells him, step-bystep, what each picture means. Love responds by sympathetically nodding now and then.
After two weeks, I visited Love and Elisabeth again. This time Love is in a good mood and is already scrolling through his favorite photos in the app. Elisabeth tells me that Love uses DayCape throughout the day, both at home and in school. It has helped Love to be prepared for what happens during the day, and it has been easier for Elisabeth to tell Love in the evenings what will happen the next day. The whole family has found it helpful to have the day’s events gathered in the app. Now, Love even looks into the app on his own initiative, and as a result, he has been more prepared for the days ahead of him. This has led to him having more days when he is feeling happy.
Love had something he wanted to show me. Has had some ideas of his own that he wants for the app. The app shows a small timer, instead of a clock, but Love thought the timer was boring. He and his sister have sketched figures that can display the time. The best thing Love knows are ponies and horses, so he would like to see a pony running across the screen to show time passing. He found this hard to explain to me, so he told his mother to give me his drawings.
This made me very happy. It felt like Love was showing me and expressing that he liked the app. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that Love was so creative with this project, because in other situations he can be very closed off. I felt I was able to bring Love something that interested him and triggered his creativity, and that also gave him a new way to express himself.