My web design projects come from all over, search engine optimization, word-of-mouth referrals, developers, business groups, you name it, I’ve likely experienced it. However, the most unlikely source that I would’ve ever considered was from my 5 year old son. Now for the record, my kids do not work for me, perhaps one day they will work beside me, but there were no child labor laws broken, no slave labor, and no cold calling what so ever; for the record.
My son, who is now 6, was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum at the age of 2. My wife and I both vaguely knew what Autism was, but neither of us had much experience with the disorder, let alone any knowledge on how to raise a special needs child. But we had no choice, from that moment our jobs as parents changed, we were now missionaries on a quest for care, guidance, help, acceptance, and a sense of normality for us and both of our sons. Our path lead us in many directions and introduced us to an entirely new world we never knew existed, the more we learned the wider our eyes, and hearts opened. We were introduced to many families in similar, and often times much worse situations. We soon realized though that as devastating as it was for us in the beginning, we were lucky. Autism Spectrum disorders are very challenging, but not terminal.
Throughout our journey we constantly seek out new opportunities for our son to be a kid. Let’s face it, Dr. appointments and such are just not fun! The challenge is that along side typical children, our son can quickly become over stimulated resulting in behavior that other children don’t understand. This sometimes leads to confusion and aggression from other children, and believe it or not, other adults. Searching for solutions we found several family support and activity groups including, Special Olympics, Center for Autism at U Albany, and finally our favorite, Upstate NY Autism Alliance, or UNYAA.
UNYAA is tight knit group in Glens Falls, NY started by very dedicated parents. UNYAA and the people that run it are simply amazing – this is evident by attending any of their events. Participation in their annual walk for a difference for example is huge! Hundreds of people every year come from all over to raise money for the organization, it’s truly a sight to be seen. Each and everything we do with UNYAA results in so much enjoyment for our entire family, we’re ecstatic to be a part of it. As awesome as it is, like any group I could see some of the operational struggles they dealt with, including the ease of ongoing communication with members. When the idea was brought to me that we could help by building a website, I was all for it. It took over a year, but we did just that.
I started off defining a few goals for the web site. First, give UNYAA the professional, friendly appearance they deserve. I achieved this by working with the group to design custom website templates that were easy on the eyes with great curb appeal. Second, give the group an online tool to dynamically list coming events, and, along side my developer Tom, design and develop a membership management application tied into their CMS empowering members to join, and reserve their spot for events online.
Today I’m pleased to announce the official launch of phase 1, and with a phase 2 started on paper already, I can’t wait to continue to improve upon it. I truly loved working on this project, the opportunity to work on something I hold so dear to me personally was extremely rewarding.
In the end, this project proved that web design clients come from so many unlikely sources, even an absolutely amazing 6 year old boy. Thank you DJ.
Take a look at our work on upstatenyautism.org