Navigating society in and of itself is a feat, now imagine navigating society either as someone on the spectrum or as a parent trying to make sure that the places they take their children are safe and autism-friendly. In recent years, technology has made the act of finding such places easier as applications have been created that both review different places in your area as well as give you a chance to review the places you visit.
Autism Village is an app that I chose for my first user experience with an autism friendly app. Using this app without being in the company of someone on the spectrum or being on it myself was probably the biggest challenge I faced. That being said, I attempted to pay particular attention to the sorts of necessities one would need to help ease an autistic child into a new environment.
This application was first thought of when a Pennsylvanian father worried about the difficulties faced when going to unfamiliar places with his autistic son. The creator of Autism Village focused his attention on making an application that would be effective in weeding out unsuitable and over-stimulating places. As sensitivity to light, sound and in some cases special diets are concerns; a trek to a restaurant, amusement park or any new place can be daunting. This application gives the user a chance to see the place before visiting and read member’s reviews on how it rates on the autism-friendly scale. My experience reading reviews and going to these places myself exposed to the ways in which technology can be integrated into a person’s life and accommodate their lifestyle.
I thought of possibilities I would be faced with as I scrolled through my newly downloaded app Autism Village. With categories such as entertainment, restaurants and even autism support groups and educational classes, the list seemed endless. Sadly many places were not yet reviewed and a large variety of establishments missing from the list. I believe that with more knowledge about the app which will possibly lead to an increase in people using it in a specific area, more options will pop up in the future and it will grow as it has in other states and cities around the country. When I first checked the options in my area, I decided to narrow down my choice to any restaurant or museum in close proximity. This was an extremely accessible way to explore my area as the app had a feature in it that would show the places in order of distance to my current location. After finally choosing a restaurant, it was time for my adventure to begin so I ventured out of my apartment and into the streets of L.A. in search of a restaurant rated with 3 stars or above on the friendliness scale.
Overall, the experience at the restaurant was neither unpleasant nor extraordinary. However, I found that the environment was suitable for a child sensitive to sensory overload as the lighting was dim, the patrons mild-mannered and the staff friendly. Having dined with someone on the spectrum on multiple occasions prior to this, I know that my experience may have been drastically different if I had been with them but still the environment seemed to match the 4 star review and I left feeling glad that something like this app was created for a parent just want to treat their child to a day out. No matter the place or random factors you may face on a daily basis that leaves you feeling unprepared; as a parent, friend or loved one of someone on the spectrum, it is a beautiful feeling to know that there is a community in your area that finds autism-friendly places where someone can feel welcome going to. It’s all about taking a leap of faith and hoping that the day will be as you imagined. And with similar applications being created, it makes it that much easier to step off the path of routine and try a new that new toy store or restaurant in town that everyone is raving about.
Embrace Autism is devoted to building a community that fosters inclusivity for those on the autism spectrum. We would love to hear from you! Feel free to comment below or contact us for more help with blog development.