Mobile Health IT Startup Could Help Autism Treatments, Education

Frank Vinluan | Med City News | March 13, 2011

Autistic children for years have been presented images on paper, a vi sual schedule that gives them the order and structure that they seek.

Paper schedules don’t work for all autistic children. But even when they do work, they’re still just pictures on paper.

The emerging health IT company AutismSphere is working to bring traditional paper methods into an electronic form with added features and functionality. AutismSphere’s software works on smart phones and mobile devices, and it is in a beta test in a small North Carolina school district.

Founder John Eder is now in talks with potential investors and partners that could help the company grow in the United States and beyond.

“The thing that gets me excited is building something that can be used all around the world,”Eder said.

Eder has spent most of the last decade working in IT positions at Ernst & Young and Experian. He started AutismSphere due to experience with neurodevelopmental disorders. As a child, he had an attention awareness disorder.

The idea for AutismSphere came to Eder while he was studying for his MBA at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Like traditional paper schedules that parents and teachers use with autistic children, the software provides a visual schedule of what a child needs to do. While a typical student might expect a class schedule that simply lists the time and place for a class, Eder says an autistic child would want to know more specific details. Math class might be spent first studying problems, then taking a quiz, and then doing homework, for example.