It’s in the Squag™: Parents of Teens with Autism Take Note!

Major brain structures implicated in autism.

Image via Wikipedia

by Eric Pudalov, Community Events Coordinator

DISCLAIMER: Georgia Community Support and Solutions is not affiliated with or funded by, or Inc.; the opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Georgia Community Support and Solutions, Inc.

If the name sounds “different,” that’s because it is…but think of the word “different” here as meaning “extraordinary.”

Squag™, as defined on their official site, is “a new application designed specifically for teens and tweens on the autism spectrum.” Its creators’ goal is to smooth the progress of natural relationships through the actions of the users (with support from their parents or guardians).

The application, according to the site, was built on three guiding principles: sensory, security, and community.

Sensory: The “sensory” element comes into play by filtering out external noise, and simulating a comforting, sun-filled room with images that are simple and calming. Squag™ also screens out pop-ups and other kinds of ads; in their place, the creators have put what they call “Squagpads™” that help users focus on building a stable sense of self and forming friendships with others.

Security: Because security is often a concern to parents whose children surf the Web, Squag™ states that safety is their first priority.

To clarify, parents are in charge of site membership, and are required to provide a credit card in order to download the application. Parents also create usernames and passwords for their accounts, and only after registration is complete can their child access the site. Also, a reporting section on the parent site keeps a log of the child’s online activity, for the express purpose of ensuring their safety.

Community: Although raising a child in the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) community is a challenge, it’s called “community” for a reason: there are many others to reach out to. Squag™ believes that kids can benefit from the same kind of system, which is why they’ve created “Squag&trade,” a place where autistic children can connect with one another after a stressful school day.

The Creators

Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles of children with autism created Squag™. To help show their love and support for these wonderful individuals, they’ve invented an entertaining, secure place that gives kids the chance for self-reflection, expression, and connection with peers (without someone speaking on their behalf).

At the same time, however, they are very clear that Squag™ is not therapy; it’s a form of “recreation and communication,” and a healthy alternative to video games and the overstimulation of the Web. Its intent is to build confidence, social relationships, creativity, and a sense of self that will benefit them in the present, as well as later in life.

Your Opinion, Please?

Although I, personally, do not have autism, and haven’t signed up for Squag™, I would still recommend that parents and family members of children on the autism spectrum give it a try.

I have met many adults with autism who didn’t have the opportunity to use such technology growing up, and while I can’t speak for everyone, there’s a chance that it may have helped them. It seems like a great, positive tool that has the potential to do wonders for children coping with ASD.

Of note: there is a $7.99/month charge to use the service (after a free 1-month trial period), but that seems small in comparison to its possible advantages.

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About gcsscommunity

My name is Eric Pudalov, and I work as Community Events Coordinator with Georgia Community Support and Solutions, whose mission is to provide creative, life-enriching solutions to people with developmental disabilities and their families. I became interested in this field, however, due to having a disability myself; namely, I had brain surgery in 1996 at age 14, to remove a benign tumor. Following this, I had many difficulties with short-term memory, loss of strength, confusion, and emotional control. Fortunately, at present, I've recovered much of what I'd lost. Despite some setbacks, I graduated high school with honors, and received an academic scholarship to Adelphi Univ., where I earned a BA in Communications. Since then, I've held a number of different jobs and internships, among them a TA position at Sylvan Learning Center, and work as a "Service Leader" with Hands on Atlanta. Since living in GA, I've also been involved with two programs (including GCSS) that serve people with disabilities. My experience has included sharing apartments with adults with autism and other disorders. Though my so-called "limitations" may differ from those of others in the program, these experiences have helped me to realize that people, overall, are capable of much more than we may at first perceive. Search Engine Submission - AddMe
This entry was posted in Autism, Disabilities, Networking, Opinion, Squag, Technology, Websites and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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