It’s hard to believe September is flying by and before long we’ll be getting ready for Halloween, Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season.
Because of this, it’s important to give a status update on the AMFAS project and share some opportunities you in the community have to make the only 100 percent organic (by military families) national grassroots effort specifically focused on Autism Spectrum Disorder.
While it’s been noticeable that our website has been slow to launch, there are a few reasons, with many of them being the same issues you are facing on the homefront, from work requirements and battles with schools, to behavioral issues and family obligations. In the name of transparency, we are looking to get the basics of the site online Oct. 1, with certain support areas coming online in stages. Here are things to expect:
- AMFAS News Service
- AMFAS Blogs with special support for our community of bloggers and the ability to have your own blog on the site
- AMFAS Groups with the ability to support your local autism support efforts and more
- AMFAS Answers that allows our families to ask a question and have our community provide answers
- AMFAS Forum providing an integrated forum for discussion by our members
- AMFAS Worldwide Resource covering every installation worldwide with ratings/feedback/more (evolution of the original AMFAS Wiki)
- Some other goodies
If you’ve been on our American Military Families Autism Support Facebook page lately, you may have noticed that we now have in excess of 1,500 friends who have joined the community. Important is that the AMFAS team doesn’t spam people asking them to “like” our Facebook page. Our community members find us, though we do encourage our community members to let their EFMP offices know about us and tell others who can benefit. Keep asking questions, sharing information and making suggestions on how we can continue to better our community.
One exciting outreach endeavor we recently started is what we call AMFAS Groups (or meet-up groups). These are local AMFAS chapters near military installations to help your families reach out and meet others near you for support or even getting out of the house.
AMFAS Groups are currently setup for the following locations:
If you would like to start an AMFAS Group near your installation, either ask on Facebook or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Of course, doing good work takes time and effort. AMFAS was always intended to represent a true collaborative of families, and, with the support of the community will grow even more.
For those of you frustrated that AMFAS hasn’t expanded as quickly as possible, the next six months will impress you. Also, there are probably people who have come across AMFAS, taken in what we are trying to accomplish, and said to themselves, “I can do that better.”
First we ask if you’ve contributed to the cause? If not, why? Currently there are plenty of Special Needs support groups and websites out there for military families. AMFAS is the only one of this type specifically for military families dealing with autism and if you look at our community interaction, it speaks for itself. Join our team.
We are well-aware of the golden rule, those who have the gold make the rules. In the future we’re sure others will want to replicate AMFAS for person gain and build what AMFAS has been working on since 2008. This is where corporate attitudes collide with common sense needs of our families.
This is why our community members are so important to the cause. You bring what fundraising cannot for this need. You are the subject matter experts on your children with one focus: recovery. You have the experience-based care information to pass on to other families. And together we can make a difference. This is where you come in:
If you would like to volunteer to help AMFAS better support our families, it’s time to take action. Tell families who are in our boats that this is available, invite your EFMP coordinators to visit and learn more about real issues being faced by our military families and offer ideas and input into making our community better. If you would like to volunteer in any capacity, send us a note to email@example.com and tell us what your interests are related to autism and any experience pertinent to helping the community online or locally. We need people with passion, not an agenda.
At some point in the future we will start looking at fundraising opportunities to further increase our support to you, through better outreach and communication. But these will stay in step with our responsibility to our families of ensuring our efforts meet your needs. More to come on that later since we’re currently in the trenches with autism and helping families.