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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Guest post: American Military Families Autism Support



Guest Post:  AMFAS update.  This is for military families by military families..  This is chock full of links and opportunities for those of you serving in our military.


The air is becoming crisper and the trees are starting to change color, meaning it’s been a year since we put out our last AMFAS Status Update for Fall. We hope everyone is getting ready to start toward the holiday season very shortly.
Since our beginnings in 2008, AMFAS was established to lead the way in supporting our military families as a true collaborative effort. Because of the importance we put on transparency, it’s vital to give a status update on the AMFAS project and share some opportunities you in the community have to help the only organic (by military families) national grassroots effort specifically focused on Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Email list
Earlier this year we started setup of our subscription service but have put off implementing it until this point. Our plan is to start sending out weekly updates on AMFAS-related information to help families keep up to date. You can signup at AMFAS.org or by sending an email to subscribe@amfas.org to be added. People who register on the website are automatically added.
Facebook and other Social Media
If you’ve been on our Facebook page recently, you might have noticed we passed 2,500 community members. This is quite impressive, if you contrast this to other pages with large number of followers, where they are begging anyone to “like” their page. AMFAS policy is we will never pander for a “like” but do ask that you invite military families or others who can benefit from our community to visit. Keep asking questions, sharing information and making suggestions on how we can continue to better our community.
We still have our TwitterGoogle +TumblrYouTube, and earlier this year added Pinterest to our lineup. We will be putting more emphasis into these in the near future.
Website
Last year we launched the AMFAS website, finally finishing what had taken a number of years to accomplish due to work and military requirements, battles with schools, behavioral issues, family obligations and numerous site platform changes. This is still a work in progress as we strive for continual improvement. The site is designed and put together by military families. Much like a special needs diet recipe, you just can’t go out and buy everything already put together like others have done. We refuse to, simply because it’s about putting your heart and soul into the effort and there are many areas we focused on.
Now we’re getting ready to improve on what was built with the next update. This time we are keenly focused on the AMFAS Experience, how each of our areas are complimentary to each other and the benchmarks we conceptualized when the project was started.
Some areas we are working on include finally launching the AMFAS News Service, upgrading the AMFAS Groups content by adding pages and contact information for each group, better integration of the many community functions already on the site and providing a sleeker, safer, stable location for military families and those who support them. Our goal all along has been to create the community area where your information isn’t harvested for profit like other social network websites, because we believe in military families helping military families.
Resource
If you haven’t used our Worldwide Installation Resource, take a look. There are currently 1,084 listings and 533 categories in our website, including all EFMP offices, CDCs, EDIS offices and main installation listings for every base worldwide. Anyone registered on the site can add, rate or review entries around any installation worldwide. Our listings are a bit different since we focus on providing information centric to installations where our families will move to.
Businesses like ABA providers, merchants and support providers are welcome to register and list their businesses as friends of AMFAS. This process was originally meant specifically for ASD support but many of the support areas are applicable to all special needs. . We’ll be upgrading some of the features to make searching easier and streamline the look and feel with the rest of the site.
Military Bloggers Support
It’s now been a few years since we started AMFAS: The Blogs and our numbers continue to grow. We now have 30 bloggers featured with 2,344 posts available for viewing. What’s unique about this effort is that this site is our way to promote these military families. People visiting the site can keep up on the latest blogs all in one place, with all links to articles going directly to the specific blogger’s pages and help showcase them. So far in 2012, this effort has 8,739 visitors looking at over 69,000 pages of blog posts and accounting for 2.21 GB of bandwidth.
AMFAS Groups
Last year at this time we had nine AMFAS Groups setup. Last week we brought our 25th online. We have consolidated the look and feel of all groups for cohesion and implemented guidance for Group administrators to optimize support at the local level. The links below are for the Facebook versions of the groups. If you live near, know someone near there or might be PCSing there in the near future, you need to join in as a member, a team lead for your community or even an AMFAS Ambassador who represents AMFAS in local outreach to improve community support for our families.
Alabama -AMFAS Alabama Group
Arkansas -AMFAS Little Rock Group
Alaska -AMFAS Anchorage Group
California -AMFAS Bay Area Group (San Francisco Bay area)AMFAS Edwards AFB GroupAMFAS San Diego Group
Colorado -AMFAS Colorado Springs Group
District of Columbia/Virginia/Maryland -AMFAS Washington DC- Capital Region Group
Florida -AMFAS Ft Walton Beach Group
Hawaii -AMFAS Hawaii Group
Illinois -AMFAS Scott AFB Group
Kentucky -AMFAS Fort Campbell Group
Maryland -AMFAS Fort Meade Group
Massachusetts -AMFAS Boston Group
Nebraska -AMFAS Offutt AFB Group
Nevada -AMFAS Nellis AFB Group
New Mexico -AMFAS Alamogordo Group
New York -AMFAS West Point – Stewart ANGB Area Group
North Carolina -AMFAS Ft Bragg / Pope Field Group
North Dakota -AMFAS Grand Forks Group
Pennsylvania -AMFAS Harrisburg Group
Texas -AMFAS Dyess AFB GroupAMFAS San Antonio Group
Virginia -AMFAS Hampton Roads Group
Washington -AMFAS West Puget Sound Group

Opportunities
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 boots 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 info@amfas.org and tell us what your interests are related to autism and any experience pertinent to helping the community online or locally. AMFAS is not about raising money, being the most popular people or putting our name in lights. We need team-oriented people with passion, not an agenda.
If you want to represent AMFAS in your area, consider becoming an AMFAS Ambassador. Send an email to ambassadors@amfas.org.
If you are a business owner or know of those who are not military families but want to support our cause, we are starting a Friends of AMFAS program to help partner with support agencies, including other nonprofits to better our effectiveness in helping families. Send an email to info@amfas.org.
If you would like to start an AMFAS Group near your installation, either ask on Facebook or send an email to groups@amfas.org.
If you want to add your personal blog to our blogging community or would like to blog for AMFAS or write a guest post for feature on AMFAS, send an email to blogs@amfas.org.
If you want to make a difference for families volunteer to add local resources around your installation to ourWorldwide Installation Resource.
If you are a writer, photographer, videographer, love to make graphics or even blog or vlog, our AMFAS News Team needs your expertise. Send a note to news@amfas.org to get started.
You can also use this feedback form to contact us and tell us how you feel you can assist in this project. Everyone who pitches in can make a difference for our families.  Remember, 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. It’s about all our families.

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