Guest Blogs

This App Makes School Mornings Less Crazy

Daily routines and schedules can help kids with ADHD manage their priorities, and run smoothly. This new app is designed just for that!

A few years ago, we were on the verge of going nuts.

Leo, our wonderfully bright, witty, and headstrong six-year-old son, wasn’t coping well with mornings. Getting ready for school and out the door involved more yelling than I’d care to admit. After-school and bedtimes were also not awesome.

As Leo’s behavior became more challenging, our confidence in our parenting abilities evaporated. Even Leo realized something had to change. After cooling off from one noisy episode, he hugged me and said, “Daddy, I want to be good, but sometimes I just can’t.”

It took a while to obtain the professional help we needed, but Leo was eventually diagnosed and treated for ADHD. That didn’t solve all problems, but over time, we got good advice from psychologists, kid-behavior experts, and the many books they recommended.

I’m relieved to say things are much better today. As far as I can tell, we didn’t go nuts. This is due, in large part, to better structure and consistency in how we manage daily routines.

Leo responded particularly well to printed visual schedules and lists that we would post, so he could see his routine tasks and their order. The transitions were expected and consistent. But we didn’t stop there.

I’ve been a manager and tech nerd for most of my career in digital advertising. As all this was happening at home, I was tinkering on a side project to set up big-screen TVs to display project information for employees at the company where I was working. One day, my fiancée, Stasha, said, “Hey! What you’re doing with the TVs could be good for Leo’s routines.”

This set off a flurry of ideas. By making visual schedules interactive and connected, they could become easy, powerful, beautiful, and fun. We saw right away how it might help Leo, but we also saw the potential to help many other families. With my full-time job, though, there wasn’t much time to work on it.

That changed at the end of March 2014, when I got “restructured.” I took it as a sign. Although I could have landed a similar job in the marketing industry, I now had a much more important (and satisfying) goal to pursue.

Since then, I’ve devoted my time, and much of my savings, to assemble a small team of talented people to create Brili, a visual schedule and daily routine manager for kids, on tablets and mobile devices.

It’s been a blast, in part because I love creating useful things with cool technologies, but also because Leo, now 10, helped me design the software. Leo reviews design mockups and tells me what he thinks of them. He also starred in an early Brili concept video and later helped me choose fonts, color schemes, and sound effects for the app. Leo helped us pick the company name by deeming it to be “fun, but not too babyish.” Brili means “to shine” in Esperanto, in case you were wondering.

He’s my number-one tester and is already promoting it to his friends at school. To quote Leo, “I really like Brili. It makes me go faster and it’s fun.”

As I write this, a dozen other kids, most of them with ADHD, are also testing Brili. After couple of weeks, parents reported “the house has never been so calm and relaxed in the morning!”

The sound of families not going nuts is very satisfying, isn’t it?

Brili ( launched the app in 2015.