"Autism Hangout" Helps Community Members Learn, Share, Thrive

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A new social networking website is bringing together members of the autism community to compile "hands-on-knowledge" that will help them learn, share and thrive. Membership is free to the public, and the advertise-supported site will help fund autism-related causes.

One thing I've found most helpful is listening to others who have been through this and have found ways to deal with day-to-day issues of living with autism

A new social networking website is bringing together members of the autism community to compile "hands-on-knowledge" that will help them learn, share and thrive, according to the site's founder.

Craig Evans, stepfather of a 17-year-old boy with autism, said the idea for Autism Hangout (autismhangout.com) grew out of his own family's experience.

"One thing I've found most helpful is listening to others who have been through this and have found ways to deal with day-to-day issues of living with autism," he said.

"In my research, I found there was no single place for learning practical, hands-on knowledge of how to live with this. So we developed Autism Hangout as a place where the autism community can come together to learn from others and contribute what they've learned themselves."

Evans noted that between 12 and 17 million people are directly affected by the 300,000 who have been diagnosed with autism. Most autism-related websites provide only general information or they deal with fund-raising for research into causes and cures, he said.

The advertiser-supported Autism Hangout site provides discussion forums, videos and product reviews in addition to special reports by professional journalists who have been affected personally by autism.

Members can also create their own personal home pages and share their own stories, photos and blog entries. Member accounts are free.

"In addition to families and individuals affected by autism, we hope to involve the professionals who serve those families and also the manufacturers that provide products they use," Evans added.

"Our community can provide great feedback about products. For one thing, our members really have to read labels carefully to be sure they're following a proper diet and so on. They're more conscious of those things than the general population."

A portion of Autism Hangout's profits from advertising will be used to support autism-related causes.

Craig Evans lives in Rosemount, MN, with his wife and stepson. Autism Hangout is a part of the Community Hangouts Network.

Editor: For additional information, please visit http://www.autismhangout.com or call Craig Evans at 952.221.1800. Feel free to create your own free account and explore Autism Hangout.

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B.J. Smith
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