For years, Jonathan Izak watched his now 12-year-old autistic brother struggle to communicate, knowing that he wanted to reach the outside world, but couldn't which made him incredibly frustrated.

The 25-year-old studied computer science at the University of Pennsylvania and from there, went on to work in speech recognition research, with the idea of somehow helping his brother always close to his heart. He finally acted on the idea and created a first-of-its-kind app for tablets, called AutisMate, which allows users to import personal images, video, audio and other information in an effort to use familiarity to help them learn more easily.

"People who have autism struggle with communication, connecting with others socially and behavioral issues that often come as a result of their frustration from not being able to communicate," said Izak. "Autismate gives them the visual tools they need to express their needs and understand what others expect from them. It allows them to create visual scenes of their environment. So, it would be the users own kitchen, their own bedroom or their own classrooms. Then, they can make the scenes interactive with video and voice recordings as well. So, by interacting with the scenes, the users are able to both express their needs visually and also learn various behaviors like how to brush their teeth, how to behave in a classroom and how to act socially."

The app can be personalized to every user and can grow with their specific needs. "It can go from the most simple, scene-based communication to building complex sentences," said Izak. "But, even those who are the most high-functioning will be able to benefit from behavioral aspects of the app. There are videos that teach social skills, how to dress properly and how to behave in public."

"With these visual tools, my brother has learned how to communicate more, he's able to have more spontaneous speech and he's able to request what he wants more frequently," said Izak. "The users can tap on images of things they recognize for requests. But, they can also tap on the sink which will bring up a video of how to wash your hands. If they tap on the bathroom sink, it can bring up a video on how to brush your teeth. It also has a sentence builder that allows users to communicate a wide variety of sentences."

AutisMate will officially launch next week. For more information, visit their website.