Melissa Würtz Azari, co-founder and CPO at Tiimo, the assistive technology app that provides visual guidance and structure to those affected by ADHD, ADD and autism, comments on using technology to help pupils focus…
Cognitive deficit disorders can make daily life a little messy for the person affected and for those around them – and when we find ourselves in a tangled and confusing situation, the thing we need most is focus. While technology has traditionally been seen as a source of distraction – especially for children and young adults – we decided to use this fundamental aspect of our daily lives as a source of help, a useful tool to re-centre and find focus.
One of the places where children might find it easiest to become distracted (and yet, a place where focus is needed the most) – is school. This is especially true for anyone with a cognitive deficit disorder – the need to focus on the lessons at hand is ever-pressing, but so are the constant changes of jumping from topic to topic, all the while being surrounded by peers and stimuli. As a company, we know that the funding for assisting conditions such as ADHD and autism in a school environment is under constant strain, while easy, working solutions are difficult to come by. This is why we created Tiimo – a tool that can provide structure and visual guidance quickly and effectively, in a low cost, reliable and non-stigmatising way.
As part of our research when creating the Tiimo app, we looked at the existing tools that are used by families to help with attention and focus. We were dismayed to find that these solutions haven’t changed for decades – children still had to rely on a combination of physical calendars and timers, written notes and verbal reminders to find focus. And what’s more, these tools weren’t flexible – a parent couldn’t continuously provide their child with reminders while they were at school, they couldn’t add an activity to their child’s calendar at a moment’s notice whenever needed. This is why we decided to create a technology that would allow for all of this and more.
Developed in collaboration with families, experts and teachers, Tiimo is easily customisable, so parents can schedule activities and reminders for the child at a moment’s notice, swapping and making additions whenever necessary. Once a child’s day is programmed by the parent or guardian, the child will then receive pointers and notifications straight to their device – whether it’s an IOS or Android smartphone, smartwatch or tablet. Not only are these notifications subtle, they are also easily adaptable to the child’s preferred learning style. If you know your child responds to visual, rather than written, reminders, you can schedule a relevant image to appear on their device at any given time. For example, if they are due to go to sport practice at 3pm, you can schedule an image of a sporting activity to appear on their device, alongside a note telling them to remember to bring their kit with them. Beyond images and text notifications, you can create countdowns to let the child know how long they have left in any given activity, generally customising their day and reminders, to better suit them and their needs.
Technology and focus never used to go together – it is our mission to change this. We want to make sure that no one’s education and life enjoyment has to suffer because they don’t have the right tools to help them find direct their attention and regain their focus.