A Belfast mum whose son has autism has developed an app to help children with special educational needs. Debbie Craig has won government support in the form of a £50,000 grant to bring BOOP, which aims to remove some of the barriers they face, to the market. The aim of the software is to close the gap between mainstream learning and additional needs by bringing together key people involved in a child’s care and development so they can work together to ensure they reach their full potential.

Debbie said: “After my son was diagnosed with autism, I’ve been looking at ways to remove the barriers to learning that children with additional educational needs experience.

“As a result of the pandemic, SEN children and their families have experienced unprecedented challenges. Autistic children especially struggle to cope with changes to their routine and this has led to increased levels ofDebbie’s innovative software education platform secured a slice of £20m Government funding to support communities through the Covid-19 pandemic, beating off competition from 8,600 entrants to secure the maximum grant available. anxiety during lockdown.

“Families have been left in limbo. Teachers require better resources to support their students remotely – ones that are better suited to the specific needs of these individuals.”

She hopes to bring her product to the market as soon as possible through her company Limejar, to help SEN families navigate remote learning during the pandemic and its aftermath.

“I’m using my skills as software developer to create a solution that will enable SEN children to continue to learn during this pandemic and to close the learning gap between mainstream learning and additional needs,” she added.

“BOOP brings together the key people involved in a child’s care and development, so their parents, teachers and therapists can work together as a team and enable that child to reach their full potential.

“Other key people such as therapists and health workers are also distanced and therefore can’t actively support families when they’re most needed. We’ve had first hand experience of this.”

She describes BOOP as an easy to use platform with everything in one place, which provides the necessary consistency while keeping track of development.

And says it also reduces the need for multiple apps.

The software she developed has also been shortlisted for an INVENT 2020 award, which aims to uncover the most innovative new ideas in NI.

Debbie’s is one of only two companies shortlisted out of 100 in the Creative Media and Consumer Internet category. She will find out if she wins that award on October 8.

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