A new smartphone app has been developed that could tap into the creative juices of people with autism to find new tech solutions to some of the everyday challenges they face.
The app called ASCmeI.T has been developed by researchers from the Universities of Sussex, Bath and Southampton with the simple aim of involving people with autism in the development of new technologies that could help them.
It enables people with autism spectrum conditions - as well as families, teachers, professionals and anyone who supports someone with autism - to share their ideas on what kind of new technology would best help.
"If you've ever had a moment where you wished there was a useful technology out there to help you, or someone else, with something related to autism, this is the chance to get your idea heard," said Sarah Parsons of the Southampton Education School at the University of Southampton.
"We want to use this new app to crowd-source ideas which we can blend with latest research and development," said Parsons.
Through the app, users can upload a one-minute video explaining their idea, which will be shared with researchers, so that new developments in digital technologies for autism can be matched to support the needs of users.
Despite there being more than half a million people living with autism in the UK (around one in every 100), this is the first time such an initiative has been piloted, researchers said.
The researchers now hope it will lead to new developments - anything from technologies to support transitions, service delivery or inclusion through to learning, employment or addressing bullying - that will be uniquely suited to the needs of those with autism.
"This project is totally unique and encourages 'citizen science'," said co-investigator on the project Mark Brosnan, from the University of Bath's Department of Psychology.
"ASCmeI.T is a simple yet highly effective way to enable people with autism to get their voices heard and to allow the creativity of a previously neglected group to be realised," Brosan said.
"Getting developers to listen to the people on the ground is really going to make a difference for people with autism," said Nicola Yuill, of the University of Sussex.