FoodFun Lifeskills Instructional Software
FoodFun LIS’ flagship product is a software package designed for non-readers, generally individuals with autism and developmental disabilities, and other people with developmental disabilities. Most transition/lifeskills training programs focus on four key areas of life: food/cooking/nutrition, money management, health/safety, and social interaction/leisure. FoodFun’s product focuses on food/cooking as well as social interaction, two of the primary lifeskills needed for independent living.
Non-readers rely on visual images as a form of communication, a replacement for the more typical text that readers are able to understand. The first component of the software is a digital cookbook of recipes. The software displays pictures of the different ingredients needed for the recipe. The pictures are then printed allowing the individual to take the picture to the grocery store facilitating the purchasing of the groceries. On each picture is also text explaining what the item is. Within each recipe is the ability to print the different utensils and pots needed to complete the item. While the recipes are meant to be cooked with support, the main goal is to allow the individual to have independent shopping.
The user first sees a bunch of different pictures of food dishes with names below the pictures. The user then chooses a dish and is brought to a screen where the ingredients are listed by picture and also the different utensils/pots/pans needed are listed. Once the user chooses what they want to prepare they can then print up a list of the different ingredients. The list is picture based (with text) and they are able to take the picture list to the grocery to assist them in purchasing the ingredients independently.
The second component of the software is the social occasion/party planning module. This is the fun part (in addition to the fun food pictures). Everyone likes to plan for party. The screen opens with pictures showing different occassions such as a picnic in the park, friends and movie night, birthday party, holiday event, pool party, etc. When the user clicks on the chosen image they hear 30 seconds of background music in a theme matched to the event that they have chosen. Once they have chosen the event the software takes them through the different steps of food preparation for the event. These food preparation steps are the previously explained food component that is now organized not by dish but by event. If a picnic in a park is chosen there will be several dishes to be made, all of them cold as there is no way of heating the dishes while you are in the park. All users of this module will be entertained by the background sounds as well as the excitement of planning for a party.
This component is especially important in the individual’s development. Planning activities are especially important for a population that is so isolated. Without socialization skills such as parties, the clients end up learning the skills and then sit in their apartment alone.
Ultimately, FoodFun’s software product combines two of the most important lifeskills/transition training areas, food preparation and social leisure. The food component allows the non-reading individuals with developmental disabilities to become more independent in their daily activities. The social planning module leverages the existing food module and assists the users in panning for social occassions centered around food. This module is designed to be entertaining to capture the interest and imagination of the user, drawing them into the software, creating the desire to use the product.
The software product will be developed by three contract programmers. The software will be upgraded yearly.