Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Autism Works: My Autism Team, and "mismatched socks."

Autism Works is an across-the-board post I'm doing to help keep people informed of recent events affecting those who have autism and their families. The goal of Autism Works is to raise awareness of, and collect information for, people on the autism spectrum by providing news and information about autism-friendly businesses and developments in treatments and identification of this condition.

Today's business is My Autism Team, a website that promises to help with what these posts are intended to do, to: help people find autism-friendly businesses and identify service providers and other tips.

Signing up for My Autism Team is simple: a little bit of detail to set up a profile (and a chance to upload a picture) and you're ready to go, with an email verification that was simple. The profile didn't offer me a chance to enter information about more than one child, and the categories of information about the children were pretty limited (just four options about his or her behavior, rather than entering, say, a sentence or two), but it only took about 5 minutes to sign up.

Once signed up and verified, you can enter information in a format similar to Gather or Twitter -- blog posts with a button to click about whether you're having a "good" or "bad" day, and the chance to enter additional information. (I, for example, entered my first post as having a "good" day, and noted in the explanation that it was "like most days.")

That leads to a screen that looks like this:

Elsewhere, you can enter information about service providers and others -- the information is quick to enter and offers suggested tags. I put in Integrated Development Services, the people who provide the therapists for the boys 5 days a week. The information you're allowed to provide is supposed to be limited to 1 sentence about the provider; I question whether that's truly helpful.

I then went looking for other services to see what was there. The boys recently had to stop occupational therapy because we can't afford the co-pay (thanks, Republicans!) each week, so I went to see if there were occupational therapists in our area that I could contact who might have a lower (or no) co-pay.

The search itself is simple: type occupational therapy and your location and get a list of providers listed there -- but the six providers suggested for me had no information about them at all, beyond their office address. There wasn't even a way to click to contact them by email, on or off the site, making it somewhat less than useful.

I also looked for "sports leagues," as I've been trying to find a league that is autism-friendly so I could get the boys involved in soccer (I'm not a big fan of soccer, but it seems like it would be the easiest sport for them to play.) Under sports leagues I got these results within 20 miles of Middleton:

Again, there was almost no useful information under those tabs. I clicked on "Middleton Sport Bowl", which is only a few minutes from our house, because I thought an autism-friendly bowling league might be just as good as soccer, but found only an address and this review, from 18 months ago:

1/31/10 Middleton Sport Bowl is a classic neighborhood bar and bowling alley. They updated the Bowl a few years ago and it's a nice bowling alley. You can always run into a familiar face, having fun, and eating good bar food.

Frankly, that looks like it was posted on the Middleton Sports Bowl fan page, and isn't in any way helpful to someone with autism or a child with autism; what I was looking for was whether they have leagues, or "sensory friendly" days or times that it's less crowded (and therefore less noisy and easier to police children.)

I've only just found the site, so I'll keep checking in -- it's obvious to me that it works better as more people use it and provide information; that's how crowdsourcing helps, after all. But the fact that it's been around for over 18 months and hasn't developed a lot of information isn't encouraging for me.

Also discouraging: why aren't there sports leagues for kids with autism? Or mixed-leagues for spectrum- and non-spectrum kids? I can't do everything, here.

Today's Site is: "The World Of Mismatched Socks." Written by a woman with autism about her and her also-autistic brother's lives, this blog is a fascinating look at what life is like for someone on the spectrum. It's funny, interesting, at times a bit sad, and well-written.

The latest post begins like this:

What come to your mind when you think about Hell?? Most people think of fire, brimstone, gnashing of teeth, A Justin Bieber concert, algebra, etc...

Click here to read more

If you have information you think would be helpful for this feature, please
Click here to Email me;
include "autism works" in the subject line.

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