One of the biggest challenges any person with special needs or disabilities faces is lack of social skills. This makes it extremely difficult and, in some cases, nearly impossible, to make friends.
My brother is 20 years old, diagnosed with autism and ADHD. Although high functioning and verbal, he lacks many social skills and is extremely depressed about not having friends. This amplifies his already prevalent issues to another level. Most people don’t think twice about something so simple, but for some, like my brother, it’s a major life-altering issue.
I made a promise to my brother that I would find a better way for him to make friends and feel more “normal.” That is when the idea for my app, Making Authentic Friendships LLC (MAF), was created. The letters MAF are also my brother’s initials, and I incorporated on his birthday.
The mobile application will enable children (ages 13+) and adults with any special need or disability to make friends. It will match people based on their geographic location, diagnosis, age and interests. It will be fun and interactive, to ensure that people of all ability levels can use it. It is clear that in some cases, a parent, guardian, aide or caregiver will need to use it for the individual. That is fine and will be specified if it is the case.
The application itself will work like a game; a sim of yourself will be displayed on a cartoon style map, where you can visually see your friend matches. There will be options for virtual meet ups via video chat, as well as in-person meet ups. The app will provide you with “suggested fun spots” such as bowling alleys, mini golf places and movie theatres, to name a few, which will encourage people to meet in public places. There will be safety precautions taken throughout the signup process to ensure that people are exactly who they say they are. The safety of our users is our number one concern.
Currently, I am crowdfunding to raise money to have the first version/beta of my application developed. That money will also help me product test the application in the Long Island/ New York area, where I grew up and still spend my summers. I live in Connecticut during the school year, attending Sacred Heart University as a full-time graduate student.
I have launched the app through a women entrepreneur’s crowdfunding campaign site, ifundwomen. My campaign runs for 30 days and I am trying to raise $50,000. I have attached the link to my campaign page below. When you visit the page, you will find a marketing video. Please consider giving it a watch. This will give you a much better feeling of what I am doing, as well as an opportunity for you to get to know me and my family a little better. This video has been viewed over 38,000 times on Facebook in just four days, and the number of views is growing. Please consider sharing it.
What I need most is contributions. Please consider contributing to my cause. I can’t pull this off without funding. We are offering some rewards in return for your contribution, ranging from social media shout outs, clothing with our logo on it or even Instagram management for your personal or business account on a 1 or 3-month basis.
Please help me address this social isolation issue and change the lives of my bother and the millions out there that face similar struggles every day. Any contribution, large or small is greatly appreciated. With people who have many struggles in life, “Making Authentic Friendships” shouldn’t have to be one of them.