Why the Money hasn’t Run Out….

Looking out over Chachapoyas

Number one question we get from everyone we meet, and everyone we know: How are you paying for all of this?!

There is no trust fund, nor have we entered any nefarious illegal rings of the underworld, and we still retain all of our organs, I have not even leased the use of my womb. The truth is much more exciting. Well to us, it’s probably much less exciting to everyone else.

Before we left San Diego, though after we had decided to, I came over to Tom’s house after a pretty rough session with a client. He greeted me at the door taking in my haggard appearance and blooming bruises.

“Rough day with pinchy?” He asked.

I was working as a behavior analyst with a company that provided ABA services to children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. This basically meant I was supposed to analyze why problem behaviors were occuring, get them under control in sessions and then teach everyone in the child’s life (from therapists to parents to teachers) how to get the same behaviors under control. The short version of this is that I spent a lot of time knee-deep in problem behaviors. That’s the beauty of the job, as soon as you figure out how to get a kid’s problem behaviors under control you leave and start on another kid’s behaviors (more fun than it sounds, I promise).

To protect the identity of my clients I would never tell Tom their names which means that he usually came up with a nickname that describes the behavior I talked most about, hence “Pinchy”.

“Yeah” I told him as I made my way inside, making a beeline for the bottle of red wine on the shelf “we worked on sharing today”.

“Ouch” he said sympathetically taking down two glasses and a corkscrew. He knew what that meant. He knew that sharing, or taking turns, was the one activity that would turn Pinchy into Throwy furniture, Bitey, Screamy, Punchy, Kicky and serious Tantrumy.

“Yeah”. Over our bottle of Charles Shaw (which we miss dearly though cartons of clos are almost as good) we talked over the case, and what I could try next as an intervention. My bruises attested to the fact that what I was currently trying was not working.

“What I need” I told him, “is something that acts as a visual and audio cue, that lets a person know when it is their turn and when it is someone else’s, and when the turns are finished”. I explained how difficult it was cueing someone while playing with them. “I mean, I could sit there and do it with another peer or sibling there” I went on. “But the behaviors are too unpredictable and aggressive to bring another kid in there as it stands, plus I am not always going to be there.”

“What do you mean an audio/visual cue?” I went on to explain exactly what it was that I wanted. “Could it be on anything?” Tom asked, “like could it be on an iPhone?”

“Yeah, that would be great, I mean he loves iPhones anyway!” I said, hoping that this was going in the direction I thought it was.

It was. “I could build that for you” Tom told me, “I could make an app and put it on your iPhone.”

A few weeks later I came over to Tom’s house again, this time it was after a session I had just had with Pinchy, (quickly becoming “LikesToDraw”) and her speech therapist. This time I was beaming.

“You will never believe what happened today” I happily said, almost bouncing inside of his house. “The first thing the speech therapist asked me was what I had done with her at home with sharing!” The therapist had told me that she had been having similar issues with sharing in Speech sessions, and then one day she came in and sharing was a breeze. She said it felt like magic, she knew something had changed somewhere. I showed her the app and she immediately said she wanted to download it as well to try out with some other clients.

Tah-Dah. And so we released Turn Taker; our first App made for kids diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, or other special need to the iTunes app store and android market!

After we began our trip we started having more time to devote to our fledgling company “Touch Autism”. We currently have 5 apps in the iTunes app store, and though we may not make nearly as much as we did in San Diego we make enough to cover our Latin America travel budget. More importantly we have found something that utilizes both of our knowledge, skills and experience equally and something that we have become very passionate about.

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Tom and I did not leave jobs that we disliked when we left the States. We both enjoyed what we did very much, we just would rather do it when we choose, and from where we choose. We have discovered that the best part of starting a company working from home, is that home can be wherever you want it to be!

So there it is, the money has not run out because in between hiking to Machu Picchu, snorkeling with Penguins in the Galapagos, and sand boarding down towering dunes in Huacachina we have been developing and building TouchAutism.

If interested in what we have been working on, check out touchautism.com

Jenny

I think of California as officially "home" but can usually be found a lot closer to the equatorial belt. After finishing a Masters program in 2011 I found myself trying to decide between a couple of different high-powered career options. I decided I wasn't quite ready to "grow up" and went with an entirely different plan which involved selling off everything I owned with my partner Tom and buying a one-way ticket to Colombia. Our plan was to travel "Till The Money Ran Out" and then go home to start our grown-up lives. Instead, we started our own app development company on the road and have been criss-crossing the globe, traveling, working, eating spicy food and refusing to "grow up" ever since. You can find me on Twitter, , Facebook or send me a message using our About Us page.

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9 Responses

  1. Jill Lugay says:

    I remember when Tom first showed me the App. It is so great you found a specialty market for it. I hope you guys get to travel for a full year! What an incredible experience you two are having… I am living vicariously through you!

  2. Lauren says:

    I remember that night in Buga when that picture was taken in the hostel… you two were beaming about your new app and the number of times it had been downloaded. Congratulations you two. No doubt in my mind… Actually come to think of it, I first met you both was in Guatape on the balcony as you both were sitting outside working on the app when I came out and bugged you trying to get what your story was. Keep up the great work.

  3. Donna Sanders says:

    I am so proud of both of you. First because you decided to take a trip that would influence the rest of your lives and now because of your shared passion in improving the lives of others…..You are blessed with love and compassion.
    “Minnow Mama” Donna

  4. Lauren says:

    Can I come work for you? Lol xoxo

  5. Skylar Holewinski says:

    Wow, I’m so glad this took off for you two! Congrats and happy you are enjoying your lives “out there” (wherever you are at any given time!). Best to you both.

  6. Darrell says:

    I remember when you showed me that app. I’m glad that it has really taken off for you.

  7. Mona Winningham says:

    Cousin you are amazing, and seems you have found your perfect match!! Very exciting stuff!

  8. Tami says:

    I can not believe I am just reading this post for the first time…
    I am so proud of you both! that is magic! Pure magic!!!!!
    I actually have a friend in San Diego I can not wait to share this with.
    yet one more humans experience you have made better.
    Thank you for sharing this!
    here’s to hoping the $$ never runs out.

  1. July 19, 2014

    […] (and more!) are answered with our newest app. As many of you know Tom and I are able to live a location-independent life by developing apps through our company Touch Autism. We have now started a side company to build apps that pique our other […]

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