Tech innovations for the autism community

Technology and design experienced major shifts since the start of the pandemic in order to better cater to hygienic protection and home-centered lifestyles. But the pandemic has also highlighted the specific needs of those living with autism and sensory-sensitivity during this time. Read below to learn about a few brands building innovative products that aim to make life a bit better for those with autism.


Meet neurodiverse-friendly social platform, Hiki. This new mobile app, which just raised $1.3 million in funding, is helping thousands in the autistic community forge friendships and romantic relationships. Designed and built by a team of about 50 adults who experience autism themselves, every aspect of the app intends to make sure the platform performs well for those with differing abilities–serving as a “space where neurodiversity is embraced and being atypical is celebrated.” Like major social media apps, users can create profiles, post content, and send private messages. Founder Jamil Karriem hopes the app helps users “feel honored and validated in their lives” and less lonely, especially during the pandemic.


For many people with autism, wearing a mask this past year has been a challenge due to sensory sensitivities. The Sensory Friendly Mask, created in partnership between nonprofit Easter Seals SoCal and socially conscious lifestyle brand Rafi Nova, gives those with autism a better experience when covering their face. The mask has comfortable silk lining, straps that clasp behind the head (rather than pinching around the ears), a structured shape that sits away from the mouth, and an adjustable nose bridge that reduces fogging from glasses.


AnswersNow is increasing accessibility for quality ABA (advanced behavioral analysis) therapy for children with autism. While the Richmond-based startup began as a direct line for parents to connect with clinicians for in-person services, COVID-19 prompted the company to shift into the tele-ABA space, and they now have the only autism app that gives families direct access to live care from experienced clinicians via smartphone. Their services are now more convenient, inclusive, and affordable. The e-counseling service recently raised $1.8 million in a seed funding round and will be putting funds towards serving more communities outside of Virginia.