Ever felt so overwhelmed that you were at a loss for words? Most of us are able to bounce back from those moments of shock or awkwardness, but for people dealing with conditions like autism, your speech can be impeded at a time where there’s a desperate need for communication.
That’s why computer science student Jeroen De Busser created the Emergency Chat app.
Busser, who studies at the University of Antwerp in Belgium, is autistic.
During emergencies, some folks have panic attacks, and some autistic people will lose the ability to speak; they simply don’t have the mental energy needed to articulate their needs.
Those who fall within the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) typically face a neuro-atypical condition that often results in difficulties with socializing and communicating.
Most people can relate to getting frustrated or uncomfortable during a miscommunication, but for those with autism, almost every communication can feel that taxing. They often have to work harder to interpret and understand social cues and messages, which can be rather frustrating.
So just imagine the sensory overload one might be experiencing during a state of emergency.
His inspiration for the app came after having a meltdown where he couldn’t speak, and his friends stood helplessly around him, wanting to help, but not knowing how.
The Emergency Chat app works by allowing someone to pull up a series of preprogrammed messages on their phone during an emergency. The person struggling to communicate can hand their phone over to a friend or someone offering help and the messages will explain what is happening.
In addition to instructions for helping autistic people, the Emergency Chat App offers display messages for different scenarios, including those suffering an asthma attack or dealing with a tracheal issue.
The app also allows users to send their own messages to others, and explain through text specifically how to them.
The Emergency Chat App has been downloaded 5,000 times and counting on the Google Play for android users.
The Apple version was released in early August on Itunes, and it’s already getting positive feedback.
Mutant Robot wrote, “The form of muscular dystrophy I have sometimes causes slurred or inability to speak. This ap allows me to customize the opening screen to explain my situation & especially that I am not drunk or on drugs. Then I can communicate via text and get any assistance needed, explain that I am fine, tell someone where my meds are or to call 911 if needed. Excellent idea. Sharing with everyone in my support circles. Thank you!”
It’s even been featured on Disability.gov
Talk about an endorsement!
The app can be customized and applied to any speech debilitating situation. This will also prevent bystanders from causing more harm than good, empowering the victim and whoever helps them.