A Fredericton company that created an online therapy program for families with autistic children has won a national innovation award.
AutismPro by Virtual Expert Clinics Inc., winner of the Rogers Innovation at Work Award, helps parents and professionals use the internet to plan and deliver individual educational therapy to children with autism.
The program allows parents to get immediate help for their children rather than go on waiting lists, said Cynthia Howroyd, a speech pathologist who founded Virtual Expert Clinics.
“AutismPro provides people with a comprehensive set of resources to deliver effective intervention and education, and individualizes it for each unique child,” said Howroyd.
“Virtual Expert Clinics’ AutismPro software story exemplifies what it means to be innovative,” said Ian Portsmouth, who judged the awards for small businesses. “Ms. Howroyd not only recognized a unique need for her AutismPro software, she and her team were nimble and smart enough to deliver it.”
April Ennis has subscribed to the service – aimed at children two to seven years old – to help her autistic son, and has seen some results.
Costing between $69 and $89 monthly, it’s a virtual autism clinic, providing education and therapy strategies for parents and teachers, while creating a forum to ask questions and get answers from experts.
“In the beginning, he used to bang his head, have many behaviours in public places,” Ennis said to CBC News about her son. “Through this, it’s made him more patient. We’ve worked on activities like waiting in line at daycare, so that he knows he’s not always going to be No. 1.”
Ennis said she decided to try the software because her son was on a 10-month waiting list for autism therapy.
The AutismPro software was developed in partnership with the National Research Council Institute for Information Technology. The service has subscribers around the world, Howroyd said.
It is also being used in pilot projects by school boards in New Brunswick and Toronto.
The Rogers award program, sponsored by Rogers and Canadian Business Magazine, was launched nationwide last fall. It recognizes small businesses with fewer than 20 employees for their innovative products, creative marketing or human resources practices.