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MagnusCards: A good day starts with a good breakfast

The world is a little more inclusive for people living with cognitive special needs, thanks to Nadia Hamilton. Nadia is the President and Founder of Magnusmode, a Canadian organization offering digital instruction guides called MagnusCards, designed to provide a fun, engaging approach to learning life skills for people with autism and other cognitive special needs, like Nadia’s younger brother Troy.

“Troy always needed extra support with things you and I might take for granted, like making a snack or brushing your teeth,” says Nadia. “Instead of Troy waiting for a family member to help him, I came up with a way to give him more autonomy, to help him complete such tasks himself, with less stress.”

Thanks to a partnership with Egg Farmers of Canada, MagnusCards users can access instructions on how to make simple breakfast recipes using nutritious eggs.

The idea of MagnusCards was born at home. Nadia knew her brother benefited from having a guide on how to do things, so she took that guidance and put it on paper. Inspired by the video game manuals her brother loved to read, Nadia created visual, step-by-step instructions for common, everyday activities.

“I put these guides up on the walls all over our apartment,” says Nadia. “Troy would follow the instructions and found that tasks were easier to do, which built his confidence.”

These paper guides made sense for someone in high school, but what would happen as Troy got older? Cooking on his own, using transit, going through the airport—there was a world of challenges in front of Troy where guides on the wall just wouldn’t be an option. So Nadia decided to find a way to put the guides onto his phone.

Starting with a grant from the Centre for Social Innovation, Nadia and the Magnusmode team designed a smart phone app that combines a proven way of learning with game design, to help those with cognitive special needs master life skills using step-by-step instructions. The MagnusCards app reinforces everyday routines and helps people prepare for a new situation. Now with users in 70 countries, there is structured guidance for everything from cooking spaghetti to making a mobile bank deposit.

“The cooking Card Decks we did with Egg Farmers of Canada have a special place in my heart,” says Nadia. “My brother loves to take part in cooking; he loves using recipes, but they aren’t accessible to him. Working with Egg Farmers of Canada, we laid out recipes in a way that makes it simpler for people like my brother, to help him start the day right.”

Egg Farmers of Canada worked with Magnusmode to create easy-to-follow steps for making an omelette, banana chocolate chip muffins, French toast, scrambled eggs and fried eggs.

Nadia is especially excited that partnerships like this help encourage independence—along with the consumption of nutritious foods like eggs—by making cooking easy to follow in a creative way.

MagnusCards has over 45,000 users, and with roughly 3.6 million people living with cognitive disabilities, Nadia thinks the sky is the limit when it comes to making life better for people of all abilities.

“Parents and caregivers tell me that using the MagnusCards app is like night and day for people with autism, bringing a pride and dignity that reverberates through everything they do and empowering them to reach greater heights in their lives.”

For more information, visit or download the MagnusCards app from the App Store or Google Play.