CHESAPEAKE A local father has created a tool to help his autistic sons communicate, and the application is now being used worldwide.
Four-year old Deacon and three-year old Gunnar Hill are both autistic. Their dad Joe knew they were fascinated with technology, especially the iPad tablet. That's what inspired him to create an app for autistic children.
'That led me down that journey to the app itself - coming to terms with this is what he has,' said Joe Hill. 'It's not going to define him, but how can we treat him and how can make his life as best as it possibly can be?'
Joe teamed up with Zack Miller, who works with We Are Titans, a local product development company, and together the two designed an iPad app called Aeir Talk. It's essentially a speech tool for the tablet using flash cards and the parents recorded voice.
'I think that seeing other kids use it and get a grin on their face when they hear their parent's voice speaking to them, it's huge,' exclaimed Hill.
People in Canada, Europe, and even Asia have downloaded Aeir Talk, and the sales continue to soar. But Joe says the biggest reward came a couple weeks after one of his sons started using the app. It was something he never expected to hear.
'I put in a slide that says 'I love you, Daddy.' We kept working on it and working on it and working on it. One day he came up and out of the blue, he gave me a cuddle and big hug. I said 'I love you, Bud.' I wasn't expecting an answer, but he looked right back at me and said I love you, Daddy.'
The app is not necessarily just for the autistic. It can also be used for anyone learning the English language. Click here to find out more information on Aeir Talk.