It’s not often that we link to a story in People magazine, but this one bears sharing. A Frisco, Texas father says his Apple Watch has changed the life of his autistic 21-year-old son, Sam.
Sam Bennett is on the autism spectrum, and although he is somewhat of a social butterfly, he’s long struggled with keeping the volume of his voice down to an “acceptable” level.
“He just never had the ability to modulate it,” says Scott, 59. “For years we’ve been struggling with this, since he started talking… and the voice level is really, really, really loud.”
While Sam would initially respond well when he was asked to lower his volume the change would only be temporary, as his noise levels would soon rise once again.
“You learn to adapt, but it’s always tough, and especially for a guy like me who thrives on silence,” says Scott. “I got blessed with the loudest human being on the planet.”
However, all that changed recently for the family, thanks to an app that Scott stumbled across while scrolling through the apps installed on his Apple Watch. Scott noticed the Noise app, which uses the Apple Watch’s built-in microphone to measure the decibel levels of a user’s surroundings, and flashes yellow when the surrounding noise is loud to the point of risking hearing damage.
“My first thought was, ‘I gotta try this with Sam. Why didn’t I think of this sooner?’ Because we had tried everything,” Scott recalls.
Excited by his discovery, Scott immediately woke his son and showed him how his voice could make the app go from green to yellow.
“He immediately saw that and started using his own voice to make it work, and then immediately started talking really quietly,” he says. “I was like, you gotta be kidding me. My wife is not gonna believe this. I don’t believe what I’m seeing.”
In the following weeks Scott has been able to simply flash Sam his watch to get him to modulate his volume. He says the Bennett household has been a lot more “peaceful” since the discovery. He says the family dog is especially grateful, as the dog would typically run to a separate part of the room while Sam spoke too loudly.
While Scott is grateful for the technology and how it has helped Sam, he wishes his son would’ve had the technology as a child, saying it “could’ve made a big difference for us,” if his son had been able to gauge the loudness of his voice growing up.
Scott has worked to share the information with other parents that are dealing with similar issues, via a Facebook group for parents with children with special needs.