Technology

An app to support children with special needs

Metanoa app to assist children with developmental disorders

Metanoa app to assist children with developmental disorders | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Six-and-a-half-year-old Sophie (name changed) has a developmental disorder that prevents her from achieving her growth milestones. She can barely communicate with her parents and needs help with her daily activities. Her parents, like many other children with developmental disorders, often find themselves trying to figure out what is best for her. “Each condition of developmental disorder is unique and the onus is on the parents to find solutions that work for them,” says Vibin Varghese, a technopreneur from Kochi, who has launched an app to assist families with special needs.

‘Metanoa’, which was launched in April, aims to help parents identify various developmental disorders in their children such as autism, learning disorders, speech delays and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to name a few. The app was selected for the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund (MBRIF), offered by the UAE government to support innovators from around the world. 

By helping parents detect developmental issues early, it enables them to find effective solutions, says Vibin.

Catching symptoms early

Metanoa identifies early symptoms of developmental disorders in a child by analysing comprehensive growth. It helps parents administer therapies at home with the help of trained therapists. If the prescribed therapies are not effective, for instance, if the child is not showing signs of improvement, the app’s AI engine will notify the therapist or professional so that a new solution can be worked out, says Vibin. 

The app comes as a mobile application for parents and a web application for professionals. While it helps parents understand their children’s condition better, it helps professionals and caregivers to keep track of the children and their progress. Through the app, they can assign activities that each child needs. The evidence-based practice can help them give better therapy and cut out unnecessary delays. “When it comes to developmental disorders, early identification and intervention can help bring a significant qualitative difference to the child’s life,” says Vibin.    

Parents would also get one-to-one support from the therapist, who is part of the Metanoa team when they need support. While the basic version of the app is free, additional services such as online therapies are chargeable, Vibin clarifies. Shija N, the parent of a five-year-old boy with a developmental disorder, says the app brought a significant change in her child’s ability to take care of his basic needs. “I used to worry during the lockdown period when we were stuck with no help or guidance. The app helped us fix a daily routine for our son. It was a great relief to be able to talk to the caregiver as well, which gave us confidence,” she adds.

The inspiration for building the app came from his own childhood, says Vibin, who had struggled with speech difficulties. “I underwent different kinds of therapy. In those days, it was trial-and-error,” he says. 

A computer science graduate, Vibin invested his time and energy into developing the app. He started researching assistive technology for over two years before launching Metanoa Labs in 2019 in Kochi. “I was determined to come up with a solution that can help improve the quality of life of children with developmental disorders and their families,” says Vibin, who gradually built a team and began work on the app. 

Metanoa has over 18,000 parents using the platform, in addition to 25 centres in Kerala and two in the United Arab Emirates. 


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Printable version | May 26, 2022 1:10:36 am | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/an-app-to-support-children-with-special-needs/article65456324.ece