Montgomery Co. students’ autism app idea wins award

WASHINGTON — A group of local students has a national award-winning idea for a mobile app to help kids with autism.

The concept, called AutBuddy, was developed by a team of six students from three different Montgomery County middle schools.

Each team member came up with an idea for a useful app.

“So we all brought an idea, and my idea was voted on to be the app concept that we further expanded on,” 11-year-old Eashana Subramanian tells WTOP.

The Rocky Hill Middle School sixth grader says her concept was inspired by the fact that her younger sister, Meghana, has autism.

“Growing up with my sister, I saw the challenges that she faced and my parents faced when managing her,” says Subramanian.

“She has trouble transitioning from task to task.”

For example, she says it’s hard to get Meghana to stop playing a game on an iPad, and move on to doing something else.

Subramanian says her sister always wants to know what’s coming up next.

“If she doesn’t know what’s happening after a task, she has trouble going to it.”

The would-be app is geared at helping students, as well as looping in parents and teachers.

“AutBuddy will help with all of these things because it has built-in timers. And the schedule will be laid out, so the parent can go over it with the kid, and the kid knows what’s going to happen during the day.”

The team’s concept has been named one of eight Best in Nation winners of the Verizon Innovative App Challenge, and has won a $20,000 grant.

Subramanian says the team was confident they would win, and when they got the big news they were ecstatic.

“I was just like, mind blown that this AutBuddy, this little app, had grown to be so big and it could help people all around the world.”

Now, brainiacs at MIT’s Media Lab will help the students turn their concept into an actual, working app that will be made available for download in Google Play.

And how cool is this: The student team members will own the full rights to their app.

Watch a video about the app:

EDITOR’S NOTE: The adults and students involved in AutBuddy app.

(From left to right) Back row: Jeffrey Brown, Principal of Roberto Clemente Middle School in Germantown Dr. Robert D Shull, founder of the Adventures in Science Club (AIS) Siva Reddy, advisor for the winning team AutBuddy Mario Acosta-Velez with Verizon Larry Graham with Verizon Dr. Cynthia Eldridge, Principal of Rocky Hill Middle School in Clarksburg.

Front row: Ojas Jagtap, sixth grader at Rocky Hill Middle Neha Chandra, sixth grader at Roberto Clemente Middle Eashana Subramanian, Rocky Hill Middle Meghana Subramanian, Eashana’s sister Saahith Tupakula, seventh grader at Rocky Hill Middle Madhuri Kola, sixth grader at Rocky Hill Middle Raiyan Rizwan, sixth grader at Parkland Middle. (Courtesy Gayathri Subramanian)

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