Developed by a parent to reduce his autistic son’s daily anxiety, picturepath is now helping thousands of autistic families during lockdown. The app, an interactive online alternative to PECS cards, saw a 7000% increase in usage over the past six weeks. Due to the response, it is now being offered for free to UK schools and parents.

Stockport businessman Richard Nurse, inspired by his own experience with his son Freddie, created an app to reduce SEND child stress and anxiety led classroom disruptions. His product allows visual activity timelines to be created, by both teachers and parents, with the ability to edit and update them quickly, and share them in advance with their children.

The app has been developed working closely with autistic families, special educational needs professionals and specialist accessible software developers. Its functionality has proven effective in preparing and reassuring SEND children, encouraging interaction and allowing the completion of home and school activities in a calm and relaxed manner.

Since the school closures the picturepath app has experienced a rapid spike in downloads and usage from both educational facilities and parents who are adapting to homeschooling in lockdown. Thousands of parents and schools are now using the app collaboratively to coordinate lessons and daily activities. This is providing families with the required level of educational stimulus, routine and order that reduces stress and meltdowns for autistic children whilst at home.

One SENCo, Mrs Rawnsley from St Matthews Primary School in Liverpool, commented “School day routines, and the structure that our SEND children rely on, have been impossible to maintain during lockdown. I know parent’s of have been really struggling to cope with the additional anxiety that their children are experiencing because of this. The app has played a big role in conserving the wellbeing of the children, parents and teaching staff throughout lockdown.”

Hearing similar messages from many of the app users Richard made the decision to offer it for free to all UK schools, SEND children and their parents, for the remainder of the academic year. Commenting “The feedback we’ve had over the past weeks has been immense, and something I could have only dreamt of when I started work on the app. In what is an incredibly stressful time for families, especially those caring for children with special educational needs, I’m delighted that our product has been able to help in some way.”

The picturepath mobile app is now available for free on Apple and Google Play stores. Schools can book a product demonstration and instructions on how to start using it at their school on this link.