Brother’s needs lead to app to help autistic students


A sister’s frustration led to the creation of an app for autistic students and other students looking to organize their everyday lives.

The app is called Motify. The name is a combination of the words Motivate and Simplify.

Shauna Jones, a student in the software development and network engineering program, developed the app when her brother was going off to college.

Her family was worried he might not be able to find the right resources for him to succeed in a post secondary environment. The app is designed to help him with tasks such as organizing his timetable or tracking appointments.

“It started because Chris was going to post secondary and it was just a rough time for us because I was finding that it was hard to find out certain information I wanted to know, like how big are the class sizes, how good is their accessible learning.”

But that rough time gave her the motivation to design an app to help him with this process.

“That was where the frustration started and we also had capstone, where we could build something from scratch. So I decided, you know what instead of being frustrated and complaining and whining, why don’t I do something about it? And I found three other crazy people who were willing to take the plunge with me and that’s how it all got it started.”

Capstone is a curriculum-based research project done in the final year of certain programs.

motify_3.fw_The real challenge came in the actual design of the app. While any app is tough to bring into reality, researching what users needed was a challenge. The app allows users to interact with the app in ways such as preparing for an interview or developing their life skills as they get older.

“It took about four months to gather all the information we needed. As far as the coding it took another four months from September to December to code how it would look and feel.”

Keisha Alcott, also in software development and network engineering, pointed out the technical difficulties involved.

“I am the one who picks out all of the crazy tools we’re going to use, so I picked a bunch of things most of us hadn’t used before so it was an entire technical struggle learning to do something while developing and realizing none of us are really that good at front end stuff. So trying to make things match our vision when none of us are capable was really hard.”

Both Jones and Alcott believe that the app could go beyond the educational setting and become something more than a simple tool.

“What I would love for it to be used for is somebody from six years old to start to get to know the application, start to play some of the games such as interview prep, start to interact, start to learn it. They use it at home, they can use it at school. When they’re on summer vacation, there’s some really cool things they can get involved in, that the app can give them information about.” said Jones.

She also said the app grows with the user.

“When they get a little bit older, the app changes the look and the feel, just because they are in a different stage of life but they’re using the same application and as they get older and they grow, the app grows with them.”

You can find more information on the app by visiting

(photos courtesy of