Smartwatches: a new tool for people with autism.

Estelle Ast has a young son who has autism. She recently launched a project for a smartwatch application for people with autism, which we are supporting. She explains the thinking behind her idea, before the launch which is scheduled for 25 March.

autism adn digital  smartswatch association
Estelle Ast and her son Allan, are joined by Carine Mantoulan from the charity Inpacts.


Why create a smartphone application?
I wanted a tool which a disabled person could always have nearby. There are many applications on tablets or smartphones which are aimed at supporting disabled people.
But for people with cognitive disorders there is always the risk that they might forget it somewhere. I also wanted a very reassuring, easy-to-use, visual tool to facilitate communication between the person who needs support and their helper.

How did this idea come to you?

Several years ago, Allan didn’t speak. For a long time, I communicated with him through images. One day, I ordered a key-ring from Asia which was a miniature digital photo frame. Instead of printing, cutting out and laminating all the images, I downloaded them onto this little key-ring, and we were able to scroll through them on the little screen. Remembering this sparked the idea for a smartwatch application.

"For a long time, I communicated with Allan through images."


I was sure this type of application must already exist (it just involves sending alerts and reminders via a phone), so I bought a smartwatch. But when I started to look for the application... I couldn’t find anything... I looked abroad, but it didn’t seem to exist anywhere. So I decided to make it myself!
What are the main functions of this smartwatch application?
The application has three main functions:

  • The "Sequence" function which shows a stage by stage breakdown of tasks to be completed. For example: "get up", "take a shower", "get dressed", etc.
  • "Planning" mode to check your schedule and receive alerts for each appointment.
  • The "Memo" function, which provides solutions in distressing situations (for example, missing the bus) using images and / or text.

Finally there is a function which allows helpers to make sure everything is going well, by asking questions which the application user answers with "yes" or "no". For example: "have you arrived?"

application smart swatch autism
application smart swatch autism
What will children and their parents get out of it?

The application offers greater independence for people with cognitive disorders as they will not need someone constantly at their side telling them what to do. It also offers a form of reassurance: they will be able to deal with many situations on their own, with a relatively discreet form of support. They won’t need to worry about forgetting things or events. Even with this helper on their wrist, they will have the feeling that they can do lots of things on their own.

"Greater independence for people with cognitive disorders"

They will also be reassured to know that they can remotely let their helper know when they are in difficulty.
For family helpers, the best part is the satisfaction of seeing your child or relative becoming more independent. The hope is that, like with the sequences of print-outs, eventually they will be able to take on these tasks without thinking about them. It’s also about trusting that things will go well, even when you’re not there. The application has the potential to improve the quality of life for parents or carers - to give them more time to themselves and lighten the load of everyday tasks and responsibilities a little.

How did you discover Inpacts?
I’ve known them for a long time - Carine Montoulan was working at the Ceresa support centre that my son was signed up to at the time. But I’ve had more contact with them since September 2014, when my son joined Sessad Inpacts.
What can you tell us about their support and the role of Carine Mantoulan?
They provide support at all levels. I’m delighted with the support Allan receives with Inpacts. They are very professional and helpful. Allan has made a lot of progress thanks to them. They also provide great support for me, as a mother, when I’m struggling or feeling like I don’t know what to do.
And they have also been helping out with my WatcHelp project. Carine Mantoulan, in particular, has given me a lot of help for the project. She has given me a lot of advice and has helped me to respond to calls for projects such as yours. She and her team gave me ideas to perfect certain functions for the application. I recently put together a short video to introduce the application. Carine helped me find children and teenagers to take part in the filming. She accepted to test the beta phase of the application through Inpacts. This was all vital in making the project a success.

1 comment

Saturday 6 August 2016 01:22 by kerry hanlon

Just wondering what stage of development this smart watch is in? I am a step parent to two autistic boys, one of whose is 15 and has never gone anywhere on his own. This would be an amazing tool for him to gain confidence and independence and for us to have peace of mind. I actually can't believe there isn't an option like this already.

Monday 8 August 2016 15:38 by l'équipe de la Fondation Orange

Hello Kerry,

The app is available on Google Play. :)
We have no information about IOS or others OS. Please check WatcHelp website if you want more information :


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