Wouldn’t it be nice to have a resource that can tell you the businesses and places that are the most ‘autism-friendly?’ Think of an app like Yelp! or Trip Advisor, but just for the autism community. This is what Topher Wurts had in mind when he came up with Autism Village, an app that will allow people in the autism community to rate and review places – such as museums, parks, restaurants, etc. – so families can find out what others in the community have found to be the safest, most sensory-friendly, accommodating places to visit.
Topher, whose son, Kirby, has autism, turned to Facebook and Twitter to ask parents about his concept – and the response was huge. Within weeks, thousands of followers encouraged Topher to pursue his idea – and now he’s got a Kickstarter to help launch the Autism Village.
So when this app is up-and-running, and you want to find out, for example, what restaurants near you accommodate special diets, or who is the most highly-rated dentist by other parents, or the safest local playgrounds – you may want to look to Autism Village.
Technology is continuously advancing and we’ve certainly seen how it’s being leveraged to help those touched by autism. Dr. Ned Sahin, founder of Brain Power, is hoping it can be used to help children with engagement and socialization.
Brain Power is a startup that is developing apps that display images of popular cartoon characters on the screen of Google Glass, so that when a child looks at someone talking, that character pops up to draw the child’s attention to the speaker’s face. And when the child turns their heads to make eye contact, the cartoon goes away and the face is revealed. Just like a game, the child earns points for eye contact.
Dr. Sahin explains in this article that he feels using Google Glass has unique advantages over other devices, saying “While an iPad encourages a child to look down and away from the real world, with Glass the child is naturally encouraged to look up into the world…and our device rewards him with looking people in the eye and engaging directly.”
Brain Power is testing its product in a clinical trial at MA’s General Hospital beginning in April, so more to come on what seems to be a very interesting concept!
If you haven’t see this yet, you’ve got to check this out! At this year’s Night of Too Many Stars, singer-songwriter “Weird Al” Yankovic performed a truly amazing rendition of “Yoda” – his take on the song “Lola” by The Kinks – with Jodi DiPiazza, a 13-year-old musician with autism. And to sing backup, they brought in the Actionplay chorus, also singers who have autism. A must-watch!
It seems like almost every day there is a terribly upsetting story about a child with autism who has gone missing as a result of wandering off. It’s a fear that many parents share – and rightfully so. In fact, as discussed here, a 2012 study showed that nearly half of the parents surveyed said their child with autism had tried to wander off or run away at least once after the age of 4, and most said their child was gone ‘long enough to cause worry.’
With this concern, the idea of a tracking device is not something new – often seen as something children could wear on their wrists. But former CNN correspondent Lauren Theirry, whose teen son, Liam, has autism, developed a new idea. She founded Independence Day (ID) Clothing, which offers shirts and pants that hold a small tracking device – which weighs less than an ounce. And unlike the other wearable IDs out there – such as ankle or wrist devices – ID Clothing’s GPS units slip inside soft pockets sewn into each garment, without any uncomfortable wires or weight.
This is particularly helpful for those with sensory issues — the device being so small and hidden away that it wouldn’t even be felt. Also something we really like and shows the thought put into the clothes’ creation – the shirts and pants are the same forward and backward, making it easier for kids to dress themselves. (Plus no zippers, no tags and no buttons!!)
This is one of those stories that starts out being heartbreaking, but the break gets healed in such an amazing way – it had to be shared!
Glenn Buratti – a 6-year-old in Florida ready to celebrate his birthday had invited over his classmates for a party. Glenn, who has autism, was so excited and – as detailed here – was counting down the minutes until his friends had arrived. But the party start time came and went, and not one guest had showed up.
Obviously terribly upset and frustrated, Glenn’s mom, Ashlee, decided to blow off some steam and posted on a local community Facebook page about what happened, saying “I know this might be something silly to rant about, but my heart is breaking for my son. We invited his whole class (16 kids) over for his 6th birthday party today. Not one kid came.” She wasn’t expecting anything in response…but she got an amazing one!
Within minutes, her community started responding with messages of support – and many were even asking to come over to give Glenn a second chance at the birthday party he wanted. And that afternoon, 15 kids and 25 parents showed up at their house to celebrate! Plus, a few days later, when Glenn came home from school, he was greeted by the local fire department and sheriff’s office – with tons of gifts in tow.
We may at times be faced with great sadness, but it’s stories like this that remind us true kindness and sense of community exists.