Birdhouse for Autism: An Online Home for Families and CaregiversBy Amanda Lewan on April 11th, 2013 /
One out of every eight-eight children are found on the Autism Spectrum, and families in Michigan are no exception to the dire statistics. Birdhouse for Autism is a Michigan technology startup focused on bettering the lives of those living with Autism by giving families and caregivers a home online.
Ben Chutz along with his co-founder Dani Gillman are caring for their own eight year old child at home diagnosed with Autism. As parents of an Autistic child, they know firsthand how overwhelming their job can be. Parents are asked to track daily activities, therapies, diets and more to better care for their children. After building up thick binders of notes and records, Ben and Dani realized there must be a better way to record and measure progress.
“Most parents were using some combination of paper, a calendar, and writing notes on their iPhones,” said Ben. “We weren’t alone in needing a cleaner, more comprehensive method to manage all of this information, so Birdhouse was born.”
Birdhouse for Autism is a website and soon to be mobile app designed for parents to record daily functions and better inform parents, doctors, and researchers about Autism.
“Since no one intervention works for all children, parents feel they have to try everything, and they often do,” said Ben. “Birdhouse provides a digital, searchable journal, and keeps important information organized and accessible, so parents and caregivers can gain insights into their children they otherwise wouldn’t have and see what’s really working and what needs to be changed.”
Right now Birdhouse for Autism is in beta and is free for parents to use. The local community has been very supportive helping this tech startup, with developers volunteering their time to build the site, and organizations like Friendship Circle, JARC, Judson Center, and Autism Alliance of Michigan supporting their efforts. Ben says attending local meetups and conferences has helped them connect with the right people.
With many families in Michigan caring for a loved one with Autism, Birdhouse for Autism can offer a home full of resources, tools, and a online community for support. Ben says it’s important for families to share these resources and help each other out.
“Talk to other parents, find out what’s working and what isn’t in their homes,” said Dani. “Autism in the family can feel very isolating. Remember that you are not alone. Parents of kids with Autism often feel like they’re in it together. It takes a village, after all.”
Birdhouse for Autism is currently open for users, and searching for help with web and iOS development. Follow them along on Facebook and pass along their service to any friends or families in need.