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Auspaces is a mobile app that was conceptualized years ago as an easier way for families who have members with autism to have real, vetted information about places they’d want to go. The app is an all-in-one platform for families and individuals with autism and other disabilities. It focuses on helping affected people find autism/disability-friendly places, events, and organizations. It also acts as a social media service for groups and individuals to share experiences, ideas, and recommendations for themselves or their children.

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Auspaces is a social networking application designed to help people with special needs, particularly those with autism, find autism-friendly places, events, and organizations. The idea for the app was conceptualized by Dr. Muhsinah Morris, who wanted to create an easier way for families with members with autism to access real, vetted information about places they'd want to go. As a product designer, I took on the role of bringing this idea to life, creating a user-friendly and functional app that would make a real difference in the lives of families and individuals with special needs.

project goals

The primary goal of the Auspaces app was to provide a platform that would connect people with special needs to autism/disability-friendly places, events, and organizations. Additionally, the app would offer a social media service that would allow users to share experiences, ideas, and recommendations for themselves or their children. Ultimately, the aim was to create an all-in-one app that would make it easier for people with special needs to find and participate in community activities.

Project Goals
research methodology
Research Methodology

To design a truly effective app, I knew that I would need to gather as much information as possible about the needs of people with special needs and their families. I started by consulting with Dr. Morris and my own experiences with my brother, Seth, who has autism spectrum disorder with hyperactivity. I then conducted extensive research, including user surveys, interviews with experts in the field, and an analysis of existing apps and resources for people with special needs.

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A portion of my notes taken during the research phase.

key findings

Through my research, I discovered that there was a significant need for an app like Auspaces. Families with members with special needs often struggle to find reliable information about autism-friendly places and events, which can be a major barrier to participation in community activities. Additionally, existing apps and resources for people with special needs often lack the social networking capabilities that Auspaces offers, making it difficult for users to share experiences and recommendations with each other.

Key Findings

Based on my research and analysis, I concluded that there was a real need for an all-in-one social networking app for people with special needs, particularly those with autism. I set out to design an app that would be user-friendly, functional, and aesthetically pleasing, with a strong emphasis on user engagement and community-building.

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A view of some lo-fi sketches to put together idea gathered from the research phase.

Final Concept
Final concept

Before starting work on the app itself, I developed a logo and color palette for Auspaces. The puzzle piece symbol for autism was incorporated into the design, along with a pillow to represent the original concept of the app as a resource for finding autism-friendly hotels. The color palette includes purple and light blue, which were chosen to represent rest and tranquility.

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The Groups feature is designed to help users find organizations and groups that cater to people with special needs in their local area. This section will display a list of organizations that have signed up on the Auspaces app and are located in the same city as the user. Users can browse the list to find groups that match their interests or requirements. For example, they could find a group that organizes events for people with autism or a support group for parents of children with special needs. Organizations can use this section to project their cause to users and attract more members.

Social 2

The Social feature is similar to other social media platforms but with a focus on sharing experiences, ideas, and recommendations related to special needs. Users can post pictures of their families at events, start a thread with their followers, or post publicly on the app. Organizations can also post their events, which will appear on users' timelines. Users can follow other users or organizations to receive updates and stay connected with the community.


The Places feature allows users to search for places that cater to people with special needs. In this section, the user can search for places using the type-in search feature or use the filter to search for places like restaurants, doctors, events, parks, hotels, or salons. Places can be filtered based on their accessibility, type of disability, and location.


The Me feature is a typical user profile that displays the user's personal information, such as name, profile picture, bio, and interests. This section is designed to help users connect with others in the special needs community and make new friends. Users can customize their profiles by adding photos and sharing their experiences. The Me section also allows users to track their activity on the app, such as the number of posts they have made, followers they have gained, and events they have attended.

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The Reviews feature allows users to leave feedback and ratings for places they have visited that cater to people with special needs. This section can be compared to Yelp, but specifically for affected families. Users can rate places based on their accessibility, staff attitude, and overall experience. Reviews can be helpful for other users who are looking for recommendations and want to know about other people's experiences before visiting a place.


Final prototype of the MVP design for the Auspaces app

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