UAE: Son's autism diagnosis spurs mother to create unique app


Anila Gonsalves and her son. — Supplied photo
Anila Gonsalves and her son. — Supplied photo

Dubai - Fabulaa contains various features like the use of picture cards, speech phrases or simply scribbling to communicate

By Nandini Sircar

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Published: Thu 1 Apr 2021, 11:40 PM

Anila Gonsalves’ early journey when she initially discovered that her first born was autistic was nothing short of ‘rocky’. The news hit her hard.

“What the doctor told me did send me into an intense feeling of denial and grief initially. It was intimidating and I didn’t have all the answers. ”, says the mother of the now six-year old.

But that personal struggle led to the birth of an assistive tool named Fabulaa, an app that Anila has ideated and designed bearing in mind the challenges that she faced at a personal level.

“My child, like a lot of other autistic children lacked natural speech and the ability to express his feelings, making understanding between each other and communication very difficult. Learning also does not come easily to such children,” she explains.

Anila says she chanced upon the idea when she was out to watch a play. “I saw a mother and a child sitting in front of me communicating with the help of a digital device. That’s when the idea really struck me”, says the Indian expat.

Fabulaa or ‘Fabula’ which in Latin refers to the chronological sequence of events in a narrative was therefore, primarily launched with the aim that special children like her son, could tell their own story (communicate) using this app.

“I wanted to make technology accessible to all by providing its users, parents and caregivers a simple adaptive way to reach out to their loved ones, people who struggle to communicate”, points out Anila.

Fabulaa, which is inspired by Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) methodology contains various features like the use of picture cards, speech phrases or simply scribbling to communicate, as many autistic children are unable to develop fine motor skills.

Currently, the free to download app on iOS and Android, is available in English, Hindi, Spanish, Portuguese and French. “Plans are underway to develop an Arabic version in the next six months,” Anila said.

“We hope that with the use of this app the bond with one’s loved ones grows stronger enabling them to better communicate and become a part of the mainstream as much as possible,” the innovator adds.

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