Autism West Midlands has announced the launch of the UK’s first ever autism social networking site, Connect. Through features such as profile building, status updates and private messaging, Connect offers members of the autism community a chance to interact, unite and ultimately realise that they are not alone in their experiences.
Scheduled to go live on April 2, the launch marks World Autism Day and is a key component of the charity’s dedication to raising awareness and providing ongoing and comprehensive support to the autism community. The site is a UK first and is expected to receive a hugely positive response across the country.
Sarah Francis, Head of Marketing and Communications at Autism West Midlands said: “We are thrilled to be launching Connect. Autism is an invisible, misunderstood, and sometimes lonely, disability. We hope that Connect provides a safe space for people with autism and their families to discuss challenges they are facing, make friends and learn about autism.”
Affecting 1.1% of the population, autism is a condition that has a resounding impact on a person’s ability to communicate and develop social understanding. As a result, people on the autism spectrum often find it difficult to build and maintain social relationships with others. Connect makes socialising significantly easier, utilising the power of digital technology to give members an opportunity to communicate without the presence of body language and facial expressions that can be confusing and overwhelming. The site is a wonderful way to encourage people with autism to engage with the community and develop relationships with like-minded individuals who share their experience.
As well as offering support to those on the autism spectrum, Connect also reaches out to the wider autism community such as parents and carers. The condition can often be just as difficult for the support team, leaving many feeling isolated from wider society and confused about how the condition affects their loved ones. Connect offers a convenient and accessible way for families, friends and carers to share their stories, offer advice and receive support from an online community of members who are navigating the same path.
Penny King, who is the mother of an autistic child said: “Connect will be a huge help to me. As a parent to a child with autism you have so many questions and don’t know where to turn. It can be very isolating and lonely. An online support network specific to autism will be great. It will be amazing to have somewhere we can log on when things get hard, and know that other users really understand what we’re going through.”
The site is completely free to join and has been developed with a focus on usability. Additional features include a question and answer page, events calendar, e-learning packages and a service directory that gives users the chance to rate and review businesses and providers that are relevant to the autism community. Connect will be continuously monitored and moderated to ensure it is a safe and welcoming space for anyone who wants to use it.
Connect is funded by the Department for Education and is part of a wider project led by the charity’s education support team.
To learn more about Connect visit connect.autismwestmidlands.org.uk
About Autism West Midlands: Autism West Midlands is a UK based charity dedicated to providing all people on the autism spectrum with the specialist care and support they need to lead fulfilling and rewarding lives. To learn more about Autism West Midlands and their work visit autismwestmidlands.org.uk