What a week. It always seems that when you get towards the finish line that the obstacles suddenly pounce.
We are heading into just over a week until our planned launch for amfas.org and it seems as the tide is pushing us farther out to sea. As we’re all aware, work and family issues can take priority and that has been the case over the last week. Still a long way to go but this weekend will be an important step in getting things ready for you.
Taking a moment here and there to view the Facebook page, it’s truly motivational to see so many of our community members discussing important topics. It’s the power of you that will make this a success.
I’ll let a bit of the cat out of the bag on some of the features that are waiting for you as we launch. As a caveat, there may be portions that still need work and that we’d decided to keep offline until they are mature. But the most important aspects of the site will be available.
First off, the site is set up as a community portal so to speak. Like those of you on Facebook, you’ll have your own profile and an assortment of options that go with it. You’ll also be able to use your FB or Twitter accounts to login to the site.
Yes, I mentioned login. This has been the subject of much debate but to try and maintain more of a privacy posture and to ensure accountability, many of the functions will be for registered users.
The topic of support groups came up this week on FB. One of the things AMFAS will offer it’s registered users is the opportunity to create groups. If you are stationed at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., you can have your own group where you can share information and make contacts with people in your area. If you are on a gluten free diet, you can also have a group. Remember, it’s your site. The only thing we will monitor and delete are groups not relevant to military families and autism support or don’t meet community standards of decency. More info as we launch.
We will be offering a section to ask Question and Get Answers. We also have a forum for discussions on topics of interest and posting great information. The value of this site will be in the form of our members communicating and supporting one another, not having static content for people to grab and leave.
In the video section we will have a quick narrated tour of the site to help people understand some of the functionality. Again, the usefulness of the site will increase throughout the month of April as we get everything plugged in. But as we’ve said from the start, this is a living, breathing website that is here for you to contribute and use as you need. It is your site and if you have recommendations or want to be a part of it, you are more than welcome to volunteer.
The blogs section is taking a little longer to configure and to prioritize, we are for the time being just linking off to the current AMFAS blog page that has 15 family blogs as of right now. If you want to be a part of it just speak up.
We will have a calendar of events with information on all the major autism conferences, events and opportunities. We’ll also have an events driven section where you can be an AMFAS citizen journalist blogging from an event, taking photos, etc. Let’s share experiences with our fellow military families! If you’re going to an event simply let us know you’d be interested in covering for AMFAS.
You’re going to like the new setup for the worldwide installation resource, which currently is being called myBase. It is not the old wiki that had a challenging interface. The new setup offers a simple form where you type in the address and click dropdowns to select categories. The process will still be the same in that it depends on the members of this community to help tell everyone what services and contacts are available by where you live. This is the cost of taking part in this global American military support project if we want this to work and help all of us. Remember that military families have worked to create this without contractors, interns, grants or any funding. Let’s all pitch in a little bit of time and make this a success.
Finally, as we get ready for Autism Awareness Month, tell your EFMP coordinators about this project, send them to the Facebook page and tell them the site is here to help facilitate feedback and interaction between our military families and the installation support providers. It’s simply here to help families get more informed and increase support that we all need.
I’ll take this opportunity to update where we are at with the new website.
Construction continues to reach our April 1 deadline to finally get this thing up and running. There is still a long way to go, but this next week should see the basics finalized and prepare for dropping the content. When in doubt, refer to the countdown timer…
This grassroots project is for our families, by our families. That said, we can use your photos to decorate the site and your ideas to improve the site now and once it launches. You will notice that it will change often, in part to mold to what our families need. Communication, information, news and support. Simply click on the comments tab and submit what you want the site to do or http://update.amfas.org/comments-and-ideas/ or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Like most autism sites, American Military Families Autism Support will have basic information about autism and options. Unlike most autism sites, this isn’t the reason for the site. It’s about community, communication and understanding specific challenges military families are facing everyday in the war against autism. There are a lot of options that will be coming online after the launch date, simply because it’s pretty complex what we’re trying to do. Want to help? Join in, volunteer and make the community better.
The base resource is being configured to allow simple dropdown searches for finding what’s at the next installation you’re going to. Every location worldwide.. For those of you who said the AMFAS Wiki was too difficult to navigate and add new entries to, we listened. The new site has a simple form that’s really straighforward. There are also some really cool features we won’t let out of the bag until we launch.
The Blogs page will support all military families with autism who have or are thinking about blogging. It will serve to help get someone up and running or promote the blogs already out there (with blog owners consent of course). We will need a graphic of your site (logo,etc) to be able to put into our menus. Again, this is about supporting you and your voice.
The news section will feature all DoD news related to autism and military families. Comments and feedback, ratings and experiences will help families better understand all the options available.
If you use Facebook or Twitter, you’ll be able to login through those accounts. Once in the site, there’s going to be a lot of communication options available on the site. Think of cable TV offering 100s of options, but in a more specific manner that every channel is just for navigating autism and military life. Whether looking for support on a base, in the community, information of what to do after diagnosis, questions to ask, answers to seek, we are there to help, from ABA to the latest biomedical information, from how to file forms with Tricare for labwork, to the best ways to work with your EFMP or medical providers on base.
The site is about improving communication for our families and military service providers. It will serve as a means to get all information on all options for our military families, while providing a vital feedback vehicle for installation support. It’s about making the best care for our families, through our families.
Throughout this process, we remain mindful that there will be bumps in the road, but to get to where we want to be, we’ll travel together.