Guest post by Gailynn Gluth, founder and CEO of Wynsum Arts, a social enterprise dedicated to helping parents find the most effective and affordable mobile technology and online solutions for children with special needs
On February 22, I spoke at Autism Speaks’ inaugural Autism Investment Conference. The event, which actively connected investors with the people working on desperately needed research and innovation, is by far the most visionary new initiative within the autism ecosystem. Facilitating funding and investment to accelerate evidenced-based solutions and their adoption into the homes of families that need them has never been done before.
As a mom of a child diagnosed with autism six years ago, I found it surreal to sit with an elite group of individuals who have impacted my family’s life so personally. I have read their papers, followed their websites and adopted many of their philosophies and methods in our home. I knew most of the speakers by their published work long before I knew them by their Facebook or LinkedIn pictures. It was an honor to be selected to participate and exciting to spend a day with this powerhouse of intellects focused on autism.
The conference allowed me to share my passion for our work at Wynsum Arts, where we’ve developed the i.AM Search® app to help parents and teachers filter and find the most relevant iOS apps to support individuals with autism and their individual needs. It was amazing to have others at the event share their enthusiasm for our work.
One of the conference’s objectives, to match investors with vital technologies needing funding, was accomplished. I was thrilled to have two qualified investors reach out to me and express interest in our mission. I have also scheduled meetings to discuss terms with two angel investor groups that were already familiar with our technology but needed the momentum the conference provided to take the next step.
But it was after the conference that I was reminded of the real driving need for better supports for our kids. We need innovation. We need research. We need help. And Autism Speaks Autism Investment Conference is making the connections that can further the innovation and research. If we share ideas, if we recognize the possibilities, if we fast track the development of better support, we all win.
And why is this important?
As I was basking in the glow of the enthusiasm that permeated the conference, I shared with my family what I’d presented. My uncle responded quickly to my email — and his response reminded me exactly why it is so important that we further research and innovation in the autism eco-sphere.
My first cousin Kimberly has four boys, one of whom is on the spectrum. Their family lost their house because their income went to pay for therapies and school instead of the mortgage. And still it’s not enough.
With my uncle’s permission, I reprint his email from yesterday— to remind us all why we need to do more, why we need to find ways to further research and fast-track solutions that support people with autism:
You are so cool... I am proud of you.
My precious Kimberly is struggling with [B]... he has essentially been cast out of his sixth-grade school... unable to absorb the direct supervision of his activities by adults he does not know... striking out, begging to be left alone... cursing at his mom... Suicidal ideation has been verbalized... loneliness is constantly verbalized... it's a mess as you might imagine... he is also getting too big for his mom to handle... Give your Connor a hug and keep up your wonderful work.
Love, Uncle G
From my son to my cousin’s son to your child, grandchild or student — we all have our reasons for putting thought, effort and money into delivering autism research and innovative new supports. The stories, the ideas and the possibilities intersected at the Autism Investment Conference. I look forward to watching the sparks of brilliance grow from the connections initiated by the event.