KidsCraft: Developer Diary #0

In my previous post, I went through a high-level view of an upcoming app in production (with the squad), KidsCraft. However, I never really explained my MOTIVATION for starting such a large scale project. But before I can do that I need to give you a quick introduction about myself.

Quick Introduction

I am software engineer based in the Silicon Valley and I have a passion for helping with kids. All of my adult life I have contributed work to helping child-development in the community. My first two years out high-school I was an educational director at the Boys & Girls Club where I was often tasked with making science and technology ENGAGING for kids.

After two years I transitioned into working with kids with Autism. I was a behavioral interventionist for another two years at Bay Area Behavioral Connections. I always had an affinity for people with autism. As of matter a fact, my brother is on the autism spectrum so this area hits home with me especially. Seeing as my brother was on the spectrum, I worked as a behavioral interventionist, and I was around aba therapists it was only natural that I used software to help this niche. It truly hits home to me.

Autism: A quick look

According to AutismSpeaks.org, Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterized by social-interaction difficulties, communication challenges and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors. Kids on the autism spectrum have a wide variety of symptoms. But the biggest for some, especially my brother, is communicating with the rest of world. My brother is non-verbal and can not communicate verbally like we do. Fortunately, he is still able to communicate to the rest of through Picture Exchange Communication system (PECS). Facilitated by his therapist, he uses PECS by simply showing us “pictures” of things he wants. PECS is totally flexible and can be tailored to a client’s needs.

The App Overview

While the traditional PECS system works great, I always felt technology can help improve the existing system. My friends decided to help bring the PECS system into a progressive system that is usable and free. We also want it to be tailored to the professional’s perspective. I have a lot of connections to the Autism community and I plan to incorporate them in the roadmap. We are also opening our project to the CodeForSanJose community. We decided since it would be helping the local community, we would open-source it to other developers in the country.

The Roadmap

As of right now, I am making a rough sketch/prototype so that people a better understanding of the app. The more people I incorporate the better the project will be, I believe. Personally, I don’t like making road maps because it removes a lot of the essential flexibility, however, at the same time, it is good to look at the possible challenges ahead of us.

Beginning Stage:
– Create prototype and user-stories
– fully flesh out app motives
– Understand and practice our tech stack
– Learn how to properly delegate tasks to developers
– Document possible challenges

Developing I Stage:
– Create a coded prototype
– Introduce idea to speech therapists/behavioral interventionists
– Create back-end architecture
– Develop database architecture and structure
– Install major environments
– Create a Git workflow

Once we get past these two stages, we can then start planning to go the next stage which involves putting things together and getting feedback from therapists.

Here’s a small little preview before I sign-off:
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That’s it for now folks

 

Thomas Nguyen

 

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