Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ideas for the Autism Community

I have lots of ideas floating through my mind and try to make note of them to share with other families who have kids on the Autism Spectrum. One of the reasons why I have wanted to branch out from my writing at the Autism Spectrum Disorders site for BellaOnline is to get feedback and start discussions with others. The site does not have a comment section, although there is a forum. I am in awe of the comment sections on blogs that I peruse around the net, and would like to have a similar rapport with readers while connecting to new families within the autism community.

1. Cooking Show - A previous idea of mine was for a Food Network showto help families implement a diet. I think I need to do more than just write an article to have my idea spotted by someone official at the Food Network or any other one for that matter. I would like to see a show that embarks on the gluten free and casein free diet and cover celiac disease. They could also have a forum at the website with sharing of recipes and the stores that cater to this population.

2. Dating site - Several years ago I submitted an idea to Match.com to incorporate a separate section for single parents of special needs kids. I guess that idea bombed since nothing ever came of it and I have yet to see a similar site online. It would be nice to see a dating site that focuses on the children and activities that potential connections can do together with their children or teens.

3. Traveling Hair Salon - I came up with this idea a few years ago after seeing a Portable Pet Grooming Van down the street. I believe they live nearby and are always heading out on another call. It looks like a booming business. So I started thinking what about kids with autism who cannot tolerate having their haircut at the salon with all those distractions. There needs to be a calm setting for this task with an overview of autism shared with hair stylists.

I even considered contacting Jonathan Antin from Blow Out that aired a few seasons on Bravo. I was a big fan and thought why not a reality show on setting up a specialty hair salon for autism families in Beverly Hills. I am in Los Angeles and could take part, volunteering my child for an opportunity at a decent haircut instead of the usual butcher jobs I create.

I am open to having a portable salon come to my house where my child can go and sit in a relaxing chair and obtain a new look. If that is not possible specialty shops for the autism community is another possibility. I also pitched my suggestions to two clinics we received floor time therapy at asking them to create a room for just haircuts. Both were open to the idea, but did not pursue further. I am all about strategizing and marketing, just need to present my ideas to the right people so we can get these into the communities that desire and need them to meet their needs and this demand that has not been touched yet.

4. Community Living - I have been a member of Co-Abode for a long time with a profile up. This is known as Single Mothers House Sharing. I want to take that a step further and have a special community or households where families with those on the autism spectrum live amongst one another.

It would be so nice to have a large Victorian type home that has a level for two different families to live. There would be no one complaining about the noise level in the home and there would be an extra set of eyes and ears that comprehends autism spectrum disorders. Respite or child care is another area where families lack appropriate help. Having some households in the same neighborhood with children of special needs would really help families gain a sense of community.

5. Meetups - I am waiting for a group at MeetUp.com that does not gather on weekends or nights that I can take part in. It would be nice to have meetings where we share about recent news on the topic of autism, do a book club, share resources and relax. Most importantly is being able to bring along those who are on the spectrum. One group for all age groups to participate in. This will help the newly diagnosed families gain insights from the experienced parents that have been there before.

I had an idea back in 2003 where I wanted to share picture cards and ideas for PECS for my nonverbal son. I imagined a group similar to a book club or coupon swap. I wanted it to be held once a week or month in a location where velcro could be shared and access to a laminator for making it a working club like women sitting around knitting and chatting, but the focus would be on learning new ideas for picture communication systems for those who are nonverbal and rely on other means to communicate their wants and needs.

I decided on a PECS club and created the yahoo group MakingPECSCards. I implemented Round Robin packages where we share our extra supplies that consist of CDs, books, social stories and cards to participants around the US and Canada. Some have left the group with packages causing us to rebound with new supplies.

I am hopeful that one day I will have a little group of parents in a setting where we can make picture card schedules for our kids and learn from one another.

Autism Super Centers


LibAnn said...

Hi Bonnie, I am notmuchmore from Twitter :) GREAT post. I have much distraction ATM, so I am will have to come back to really digest it.

My youngest son, we believe, is on the spectrum. Although trying to get a doctor to take us seriously about it because he will sometimes look you in the eye and is loving to his family is ridiculous. He has Apraxia, OCD and we believe something neurological going on that is too yet to be diagnosed.

So I am anxious to follow your new blog. It tickles me at the thought of being able to be there from the beginning and being able to watch it evolve.

Anyway, nice to meet you on the blog side. Again, great article - GREAT ideas! I will come back tonight after kiddos go to sleep to really digest it.


GingerK said...

Hi Bonnie,
I am @gingerken on Twitter. Saw your post and have a couple of ideas that may not be new to you.
Re: the home sharing, have you looked into the possibility of cohousing at all? I thought about it years ago, liked the idea because the community gets to know one another before embarking on such a big project. Just a thought.
Life would be so much simpler for all parents of kids on the spectrum if respite could be covered by insurance.

Re: the Match.com idea, Ning is a great platform for those that want to start a group of any kind. However, it does seem that there are many more single moms than dads dealing with special needs kids, sadly.

I have enjoyed finding your posts on BellaOnline, and will get caught up eventually, though you are a very busy lady;-)

Ginger Kenney

Lori-ann said...

Hi Bonnie,

I am autismaspergers on twitter. I have added your site to my Pageflakes. http://www.pageflakes.com/contact41
Great ideas! You should write a book.

Alexie said...

Great ideas. We need something like that out in Texas. Autismspot has a dad's support group.
I am hoping my husband will go. Its tough, because we don't have many friends or family close by.
Mom is fighting ovarian cancer, my dad is on the road as a truck driver.
I am at home with my son while my husband commutes. There just isn't enough support for families like us. They do need to include those on the spectrum.

www.floortimerepository.com, I will add you to my delicous bookmark and my other social bookmarking sites.

JillyFlorio said...

I LOVE the traveling hair salon idea. Other things could be a part of it, like facials, massages, teeth cleaning, reflexology...

hellokittiemama said...

I would LOVE LOVE LOVE if they did a cooking show. Occasionally I've caught them showing gluten free recipes on Christina Cooks but not gf/cf.

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