App aims to help autistic people manage anxiety symptoms

Based on cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) principles, the software provides support and encouragement, and enables users to share progress.

James Hayes | 9th Jul 18
Screen shots from new smartphone app Molehill Mountain. It has been designed to help autistic adults manage the symptoms of their anxiety.

What’s claimed as the first evidence-led smartphone app aiming to help autistic adults understand and self-manage their own anxiety, has been launched.

Developed by research charity Autistica and researchers at King’s College London with input from autistic people, Molehill Mountain is part of a digital learning package on anxiety and autism which includes an email course and supportive Web content.

Molehill Mountain is based on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) approaches adapted for autistic people. It builds on latest research into anxiety in autism, and puts these techniques into the hands of autistic adults across. Autistica and King’s College London worked closely with autistic people and developers to ensure that Molehill Mountain is easy to use, engaging, relevant and secure.

Molehill Mountain gets users to track their worries and how they’re feeling through a daily check-in. The user is prompted to open the app to play Molehill Mountain, an activity designed to identify and capture any worries. Completing the activity unlocks a daily tip about anxiety and autism.

The user is then asked three simple questions about their day, and given the option to add more context to a daily diary. At each check-in, the user tracks their progress up Molehill Mountain and reviews their stats, tips and diary entries through a dashboard.

The app delivers its programme over 14 check-ins, but can be used for longer. Users can also share their progress with a trusted supporter.

Molehill Mountain originated from a hackathon held at Deutsche Bank when Autistica was one of its Charities of the Year in 2016-2017. More than 150 of the bank’s technology and design experts competed to develop a prototype, with all coding created donated to Autistica. The project also received funding from the Maudsley Charity the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists Charity and The Pixel Fund.

“Too often autistic people receive inappropriate anxiety support and sometimes they’re unable to access any support at all,” said Jon Spiers, Chief Executive at Autistica. “We wanted to offer something practical that can be used whenever and wherever it’s needed. Many autistic people have a real affinity with tech, and our autistic testers and developers told us that personalisation was important, so an app seemed like the right solution.”

Molehill Mountain is now available on the Apple App Store.