Thursday, 15 May 2014

Cooking up a new food app for adults on the spectrum

Do you have trouble with food?

Maybe it’s finding something tasty and vaguely healthy to eat that doesn’t your trigger sensory sensitivities.  Perhaps it’s the executive function needed to go grocery shopping and keep the cupboard stocked.  Maybe it’s finding and following an appropriate recipe.  Add ropey body awareness that might mean you forget to eat because you don’t recognise that you’re hungry, or over-eat because you have trouble telling hunger from other sensations like anxiety, and it’s small wonder a lot of people on the spectrum find mealtimes problematic.

That’s where My Ambrosia comes in. It’s a mobile app under development in Ireland for adults on the spectrum, dealing specifically with meal planning, grocery shopping, and food preparation. It’s the work of Myriam Leggieri, and combines her work in technology - she’s doing her PhD in computer science - with her volunteer work with the Galway Autism Partnership.

The app will be able to recommend recipes and help users plan meals for a week in advance. It then breaks the recipes themselves down into step by step instructions, complete with images or videos for people who need information presented visually. It also keeps track of supplies, so you don’t find yourself riceless on risotto night.

My Ambrosia has made it through to the second stage of the Student Entrepreneur Awards, which provides seed funding to help students turn their ideas into going concerns.  Getting through to the final round involves putting together a business plan, including market research. That’s where we come in.

The project needs feedback from adults on the spectrum. There’s a short survey that goes through how you cook, your dietary requirements, and your grocery shopping game plan. By taking part, you can help this app become the most useful resource it can be for people on the spectrum.

If you'd like to take part, you can get involved here.