Appy days: Doting father invents iPhone gadget to help daughter, 3, with brain tumour learn how to writeIt helped her to write after memory loss from radiotherapy
Caring: Sean Connolly with Iris and his wife Debra helped create his own iPhone app to help his daughter write
A father who created his own iPhone app to help his poorly three-year-old daughter write for the first time has seen it become a world-wide hit.
Civil servant Sean Connolly, 45, had trawled the market for apps to help teach little Iris after she was struck down by a brain tumour and suffered memory loss.
The father-of-two from West Horndon, near Brentwood, Essex, knew it was vital for her brain to be stimulated as much as possible, so invested in an iPad and downloaded a string of educational apps to help her learn.
App success: Sean Connolly turned to a development company with his Share My ABCs idea
But after becoming frustrated with the quality of apps available, Sean set about creating his own to help Iris learn to write and let him share her progress with his wife Debra”s family who live in New Zealand.
Now his “Share My ABCs” app is being used in America, Australia, Canada, China, Switzerland, the Cayman islands, Malaysia and Italy.
Brave: Iris had to undergo almost a year of radiotherapy which affected her brain function
It features pictures of animals to represent upper and lower case letters and an option to write the whole name of the animal.
It also allows a word and message to be traced in different colours, and what was written by the child could be saved by the adult on to a E-card to send to relatives.
Iris has even been able to write: “I love you” to her stepbrother.
Mr Connolly submitted his idea to a company which develops apps. They invested 30,000 and he will earn 25 per cent of all profits from the downloads.
Hesaid: “I was over the moon my app was chosen – especially as all I wanted to do was help Iris”s educational development after all she”d been through.
“She”s come on incredibly. Iris has a stepbrother in New Zealand and she was able towrote “I love you Samuel,” after using the app.
“It took her just a few minutes to write and was perfectly legible – which is so much better than before.
Daddy dearest: Iris spelled out this message to her father after he created the iPhone app to help her educational progress
Creation: The world of words and pictures on the app dreamed up by Sean
Fun learning: The app allows a word and message to be traced in different colours and then saved by the parent onto an E-card to send to relatives
“Ijust hope that Share My ABCs will help thousands of children learn to write, whilst bringing joy to their families as they receive messages from their sons, daughters, granddaughters and grandsons.”
Iris was just two when she fell ill on a family holiday in Borneo and was rushed to hospital in the UK.
Her brain functions were badly affected by the 48 weeks of radiotherapy treatment she was given at Great Ormond”s Street Children”s Hospital, to fight the tumour.
The child was bed-bound, unable to attend nursery and was temporarily paraylsed down her right hand side.
Doctors said Iris”s executive function – which controls processes such as memory, attention, mental flexibility and monitoring of actions – had been damaged.
Learning to write: The app features pictures of animals to represent upper and lower case letters and an option to write the whole name of the animal
Sean and wife Debra, 38, a veterinary surgeon, were told she could suffer long-term brain damage with a 30-point drop in her IQ.
Last Christmas Sean who wanted to make his daughter”s stay in hospital as comfortable as possible, promised Santa would buy her an iPad if she wore her glasses every day. She loved playing on it everyday.
Playtime: Iris loves colouring in letters and animals and she has “come on incredibly” since she has used the app
But Sean was keen to help his daughter progress as much as possible and was frustrated that there wasn”t an educational “app” that taught children how to write.
He said: “There were some great apps where you could copy your ABCs. She was always colouring letters in, she”s very artistic, but she was getting her letters back to front.
“I”d write it on paper but she loved the Ipad and everything could be done magically on there and so I looked at how much it would cost to design my own app – it was too expensive
“It was then that I came up with my own idea for an app – Share My ABCs – which allows youngsters to trace letters and shapes, write words, and then share them with loved ones.”
Sean looked into becoming an application developer, but didn”t have the required skillset. He also considered hiring developers to make his app a reality, but found it was too expensive.
Eventually whilst trawling the iTunes store he turned to FundedApps – an app development company that gives consumers the opportunity to create their own apps.
Sean submitted his idea to the company which was so impressed with his idea that it produced the app, which is now available to download from the Apple App Store.
He said: “I love how you can see Iris”s handwriting – it gives it character. The child can also select the colour they want, too. You can save the word or sentence and see the child”s progression and also change the settings to challenge them more.”
Jamie Lyons, co-founder and executive director of FundedApps, said: “We were really excited to receive Sean”s idea. Not only was it fantastically well conceived, but it fulfilled a real need for Sean and his family.
“We”re thrilled that little Iris, and thousands of other youngsters, will be able to benefit from the skills that Share My ABCs teaches.
“Through Sean”s idea, we”ve created a totally new educational environment for children to immerse themselves in. We believe the ability to share handwritten messages with loved ones will elevate a child”s learning to the next level.”