Otsimo expands autism education app in US

By Laura Lovett
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Earlier this month Otsimo, a digital health startup focused on developmental disorders, rolled out an expansion of its app in the US to help kids with autism, down syndrome, and other cognitive learning disorders. 

The Turkish startup offers more than 50 different games through its app that target specific areas of development. For example, the app lets kids focus on specific skills such as learning emotions, colors, and the names of household items. 

Parents are able to chose the games and customize their child’s track through the PIN-protected Family Module. Caregivers can go into the platform and adjust the game’s difficulty for a child as they progress. The Family Module also gives parents access to metrics and analytical data about their child, according to a representative of the company. 

Otsimo offers a free version that is kid safe and includes a selection of core games. It also has a premium version, where parents are provided with analytics, daily reports, recommendations, and 24-hour live support. This version also offers speech therapy skills to kids. 

Recently the company commissioned a third-party research firm to work on a State of Autism Acceptance Report. The results, which were released today, revealed that 43 percent of survey takers believe access to therapy methods should be available to people with autism for free. 

Other results showed that more than half of the American public surveyed want society to do more to accommodate people with autism, yet only 29 percent said they would feel comfortable going to a skilled professional, such as a physician, who was diagnosed as being on the spectrum. 

“Our society has evolved to recognize the benefits of diversity. Although when discussing diversity, neurodiversity is often left out of the discussion,” Zafer Elcik, cofounder and CEO of Otsimo, said in the report. “We need to inject neurodiversity into this conversation and treat autism not as a disorder but as a unique trait. People with learning disorders can be among the most dedicated, creative, and intelligent workers that anyone could have the pleasure to know. However, we will not get to a place where neurodiversity is widely accepted until we shift our mindset. As we saw in our research, many people report having empathy towards people with autism, but that empathy unfortunately doesn’t always translate into action, or acceptance. There’s still work to be done, and we’ll be here doing it.” 

Elcik’s work with Otsimo was inspired by his younger brother who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, according to a company representative. Seeing that his brother was excited by technology, he began to develop an app for kids like his brother to learn certain skills using applied behavior analysis techniques and practices. Otsimo was officially cofounded in 2015 after Elcik and his college roommate, Sercan Degirmenci, participated in a 48-hour hackathon, according to a company.