Online dating site for special people

This includes his ties to an organization called Fantastic Friends, which pairs teens and young adults who have special needs with volunteers of the same age and interests, as well as Bringing Up Down Syndrome, or BUDS, which operates on the same premise."Once we moved out here, we realized there wasn’t a place to find stuff for Christian, like activities," said his father John Ciocca, a special education teacher at Three Oaks Elementary School.

"It was hard."This spurred the family to launch a Fantastic Friends chapter, a process that kicked off in November.

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This program brings what's called a PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) book into the digital world.

Non-verbal children and adults might carry these books around with them so they can communicate with others, and it works by having an individual point to or pull out pictures to string together phrases or sentences.

As word about the monthly social events has spread, so has the app work being done by Johnny.

The most successful is an app called My Voice —Tap or Type to Talk, which was launched last May.

He specializes in apps that help families with children who have special needs connect socially and improve thier lives.

On the right is his older brother, Christian, who has Down Syndrome. -- Johnny Ciocca is a self-taught app maker, who, at only 17 years of age, has already launched 35 apps.Not only does the app streamline the information, but with a few swipes and clicks, the app will speak for a person, giving them a real voice.The application includes a function for mirror talk as well, which uses the selfie side of a camera to help people stretch their mouths like they would with a speech pathologist, either as a child or if recovering from an illness, such as a stroke."One lady, she’s your typical lady, but she had gone for a surgery for her throat.Johnny Ciocca, 17, right, a junior at Estero High School, has created an app that helps people with special needs meet people and become more social.His inspiration is his older brother Christian, left, who has Down syndrome. When the app, called Specially Abled Dating, was bogged down with coding issues and never really took off, Johnny moved on, but never really stopped thinking about it."I continued working on apps, but that just helped me build the skills needed to get it to actually work," he said.And it seems the broad range of users for this app caught the attention of Apple pretty early, with Johnny receiving an email requesting promotional images of the app within a month of it going public.

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