July 25, 2011
Why reinvent the wheel? That’s a question I posed to myself too many times to count when I was teaching, and one that’s resurfaced often as I’ve been raising my children. Apparently, a woman named Sharon Esch thought so as well while she was struggling to create a “super-team” to help her son Adam, who had been recently diagnosed with autism. In an effort to streamline the odious process of procuring that occupational therapist who “gets it”, or the psychiatrist actually willing to listen to parental concerns, she went ahead and created a web site to assist parents in creating their own “dream teams” for their autistic progeny. The site, myautismteam, is free, and has been launched in partnership with Autism Speaks. It is available to all autism parents and providers in the United States.
It appears to be the “Craig’s List” of autism, and it is a damn fine idea.
Perhaps it’s just me, but with the vast array of social media available to us now, at times I feel a wee bit overwhelmed by all the “great new ideas” available to us these days. Since there are times I honestly find it difficult to recall my children’s names, I also find it somewhat difficult to remember some of the suggestions that come my way, either ones from well-meaning friends, or ones broadcast to me over the internet. Lately, the only ones I’ve managed to recall for more than thirty seconds have been in the entertainment industry. There is that brilliant soul, Adam Mansbach, who wrote the Go the F*** to Sleep Book (a statement I admit to muttering under my breath frequently over the years, leaving me in greater despair that I didn’t think of turning it into a literary experience), and the equally Eugene Pack and Dayle Reyfel, who came up the idea for Celebrity Autobiography, a play in which celebrities read other celebrities’ diaries.
Truly, some people just suck up all the available genius in the world.
But I have to say as I read today’s Autism Speaks Blog that their featured article will stay in my mind even without writing it down on the sticky notes that seem to proliferate throughout my home, and horrify my husband with their random, and to him, indecipherable themes (“no underpants”, which was a reference to needing to replenish my youngest son’s diaper bag, readily comes to mind). Access to this site enables a parent to discover other parents in close proximity, read their stories, and locate the providers they use and recommend. It also permits parents to do searches on a directory of over 30,000 autism providers across our nation. Among other wonderful features, it even allows moms and dads to make their own personal recommendations of providers and autism-friendly businesses to the directory, so they can spread the wealth of finding that perfect professional who simply fits their child’s needs. The entire premise behind the site is that “it should be easy for parents of children with autism to find the best providers around to help them”.
And really, isn’t it about time that something related to autism was easy?
This site I’ve actually bookmarked (yes, I still remember how to do that even with “summer brain”). I’ve even tested it out a few times, and was happy to see a few of the providers we use actually come up as suggested professionals. I may even get brave and try to recommend a few of my own.
That will probably require at least two sticky notes to remind me to do it.
Anyway, here is the site again (myautismteam), and I hope you find it helpful. Frankly, I don’t think the efficacy of this site is limited to those of us with offspring on the autism spectrum either, which makes it a boon for all of us with differently-abled children, or even some whose children are just struggling, and need a little help.
It’s usefulness will be widespread, and I believe it will truly assist our community, one in which time, and resources, are particularly precious.