This article is courtesy of Wynsum Arts’ Every App Has a Story, the stories behind Wynsum Arts’ distinguished apps.
“We have created a community of people who understand the issues unique to parenting a child with autism and are willing to share what they’ve learned.”
— Eric Peacock, co-founder and CEO of MyHealthTeams
Eric Peacock’s nephew is on the autism spectrum. “When my brother and sister-in-law got the diagnosis, they turned to Google and learned everything they could, but still had a lot of unanswered questions. They felt frustrated, like they had to reinvent the wheel,” he says. “They struggled to find support.”
Peacock, who was working in social media at the time, talked about the dilemma with some colleagues. They recognized a huge unmet need and set out to create a solution. “We knew we couldn’t cure autism, but we felt certain we could make it easier for parents to connect and find the support they need. Our belief is simple: if your child is diagnosed with autism, it should be easy to find the best people around to help you,” he says.
And thus, MyHealthTeams was formed.
Why Did You Create MyAutismTeam?
Eric Peacock: We have created a community of people who understand the issues unique to parenting a child with autism and are willing to share what they’ve learned. In June of 2011, we launched with 30 members in San Francisco. Today, we have 36,500 members in every state and Canada.
When you have a child with autism, even finding a barber can be a painful trial-and-error process. You want to quickly find someone who understands sensory processing disorder or at least someone who is willing to go the extra mile to mitigate your child’s discomfort. When you find someone who is willing to help your child, you want to tell other parents who need that accommodation. Our site lets you both find and recommend providers — from speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists to barbers and swim coaches.
MyAutismTeam is like a combination of Facebook, Yelp and Pinterest. Parents turn to the site for moral support and practical advice on autism- and parenting-related issues, as well as recommendations for service providers.
How Does MyAutismTeam Work?
Eric Peacock: Parents can log in to the site via a web browser or via an app on the iPhone, iPad or Android phones. (Registration must be completed via browser before using the app.)
You set up an account — you can use your real name or a screen name. To get the greatest benefit from the network, create a profile and connect with parents whose children are similar to yours and users who appear to share the same beliefs that you do. You can search for parents like you based on the child’s diagnosis, child’s age, child’s gender and your role (mom, dad, grandparent or caregiver). You can also search and connect with members by location, which makes it easy to find members that live in your area.
The provider directory allows you to search by location. We include a special “autism yes” icon to indicate when members of the community have confirmed the providers specialize in autism or are autism-friendly.
Our Q&A section has a 97 percent answer rate. That demonstrates what a constructive and supportive community we have. The site also has a pinboard, where parents share photos and ideas about activities to do with kids.
We launched the latest version of the mobile app in mid-January and continually make improvements. To date, users can see comments, connect with other users and see the pinboards with photos other parents upload. The provider search will be added to the app in the future. The app makes it easier for users to stay connected. They can log in from waiting rooms; they can upload a photo or ask quick question while on the go.
Both the website and the app are free, and there are no ads in the app. We are monetizing the network with a sponsorship-type concept. For example, many parents want to know how to plan for their children should something happen to them. When we realized that many of our users wanted financial information tailored to their needs, we created a partnership with a financial planning company. Our members receive a discount on services and we receive a share of revenue for each member that signs up. It is a win-win situation. We share products with discounts that our members couldn’t get on our own and our members get products and services tailored to the needs of families with children who have autism.
We’ve also arranged for a free trial and member discount at Sittercity, which helps parents find local babysitters for children with or without special needs.
Every parent should know that they are not alone and they don’t have to reinvent the wheel. This network exists solely to provide support for caregivers and to make it just a little easier to provide support for kids with autism.
Wynsum Arts’ mission is supported through the purchase of apps from i.AM Search – available in iTunes. That’s how we can do what we do for free!