Friday, April 6, 2012

Sara Winter

Autism Light #180 is Sara Winter.

Sara Winter is from Toronto, Canada. She is an aunt of a child with autism. She has spent over a decade working as a teacher's aid for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in school settings and serving as an aid to her 12 year old nephew who has autism. Sara is also a writer who writes on subjects that raises awareness for autism. In January, 2012 Sara Winter launched a social platform site for tweens and teens with Autism called Squag™ that she and her family had spent two years creating themselves. Sara Winter is a Autism Light for creating the unique Squag™ website to meet the special social needs of young people with autism and for being a writer, aunt, and aide, that shines a light for autism each day.

Here is a video that provides an overview of how the Squag™ site works.

Autism Light asked Sara Winter how Squag™ came to fruition.  She said,
We started Squag™ because we felt kids with autism were often underestimated in their daily life and that many environments weren't conducive to the way they communicate. Our goal is to give kids a safe place to be themselves, build original ideas and gain some confidence with the idea of friendship to take with them wherever they go.

The platform was named Squag™ because it was one of the first words of Sara's loved one with autism. "Squag" was one of his first words - his word for "square" back in the early days of his diagnosis and treatment therapy. The word reminds how far he's come and how far we know he'll go (Source)." You may go to to find out all about the Squag™ social platform and sign up.

One of the questions parents may have about Squag™ is how it keeps kids safe in contrast with the potential concerns by other social media sites. Sara Winter explained the security protocols this way:
The Squagpad itself (the parent/child communication) is a totally private experience. We follow strict privacy laws and just received our truste certification. For our launch of the peer-to-peer capabilities, later this spring, we are working with several special needs organizations with coded membership to ensure that everyone is safe. Parents are the members and hold all usernames and passwords. When they register, they will be taken through a proper application process to be considered. We will also require their credit card. Our staff will be moderating all of the activities and as well, parents will have transcripts from every squag session – all of their activities will be accessible right from their dashboard.
Social Media:  You may follow Sara Winter's work at Squag™ at the following social media areas:
Other Articles: Here are some other articles on Sarah Winter and Squag™:
Writer: Sarah Winter writes for the following sites and publications:
Advice to Parents: Sara Winter gave this advice on how aunts or uncles of children with autism can help parents and families with their special needs.
My advice is to do whatever you can to be a part of that child’s daily life. Do not wait to be told what to do or asked for help. Jump in and be useful. Facilitate nights out for the parents whose child has just been diagnosed. Babysit. Do dishes. Figure out what interests the child has and educate yourself. Find frameworks where you’re confident (for some it’s cooking, for others it’s hockey cards) and have that be the activity that you and your loved one go back to again and again. Our whole family is better for knowing and loving my nephew; he makes us all better every day.
Special thanks to Sara Winter for the devotion she has to her nephew with autism and for being the founder of Squag™.  We expect to hear great things in the future about how Squag helps young people with autism growing socially in a safe environment.

Related Posts: If you like this post, you may enjoy these others on people who founded other autism social networking sites. Like Squag each fulfills a unique niche'.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

Photo: The photo in this post is used with permission of Sara Winter.

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