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How Apps are Helping Children with Autism Learn to Communicate

Thanks to Star Wars: Force for Change’s support of the UNICEF Innovation Fund, UNICEF was able to provide a $30,000 grant that helped deploy  and develop the Yuudee app. Yuudee, which means little rain drop in Chinese, is an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) application specifically designed to help children with autism that have difficulty with speech. Yuudee can also be used as a tool parents and teachers use to teach children communication and cognitive skills.

Autism affects one in every 68 children. For many of them, communication can be a constant struggle. These challenges often prevent them from learning and participating in vital social activities.

To combat this issue, UNICEF’s Global Innovation Centre, in collaboration with Peking University’s School of Life Sciences, National Institute of Biological Sciences, App China, Inway Design, and G-Wearables launched Yuudee.

To use the app children can press an icon and the app will ‘speak’ out a short sentence or phrase that expresses a need, request, emotion or answer. A built-in repository of more than 400 icons is available for users as a start. This library of easily identifiable icons helps autistic children learn about and identify people and objects, and express emotions. In time, they can learn to express more complex messages, such as: “I want to have pancakes for dinner,” utilizing verbs which are more difficult to grasp. For some children, using this technology makes a world of difference \.

Parents and teachers can easily add to these resources and customize lessons catering to the specific needs of each child, with flexible and user-friendly customization functions supported by Yuudee.

Currently Yuudee is available for free on both iOS and Android in Chinese and in English, creating great potential for it to scale internationally.