When Topher Wurts was trying to find a playground to take his son to on Saturday mornings, he had to seek out a park that was fenced in.
His now 13-year-old son Kirby has autism, so the family is always looking for places that will have fewer obstacles for him or had features to keep him safer.
But finding restaurants, museums, parks or stores where someone with autism will feel be comfortable isn't always an easy task.
"Kids [with autism] often have sensory issues or they have dietary restrictions," said Wurts.
So he’s started an online fundraising campaign to raise cash for an app that would allow families looking for places that would be accommodating to someone with autism.
Would work like Yelp
Wurts describes it as an app that would work the way Yelp or Tripadvisor does, giving reviews for business and recreation spots, but based on how they fare for families with a member who has autism.
"For an autism family, simple day-to-day things like what we’re doing with this app to find safe and autism-friendly places are really quite difficult," he said.
Whether it’s a playground, dentist, barber or restaurant reviews, the app will let people share anecdotes about what places cater to certain dietary restrictions or have family rate service providers.
Wurts uses the dentist as an example. He says it’s a place that presents a lot of issues for Kirby.
"Kirby’s very sensitive about...the taste of food, textures these are all issues, so you can imagine that a regular tooth cleaning was a real issue," he said. The family found a dentist suited to Kirby’s needs through other autism parents.
The American family has spent their summers in the Maritimes. Chester, Nova Scotia has been the family summer home for the last five generations. Finding services while travelling can be difficult for families like the Wurtses.
Wurts said he hopes this app will make all of that easier.
"Autism families can essentially get peer reviews of the places they are going," he said.
The Kickstarter campaign already has pledges for over $24,000 of its $38,500 goal.
There are 38 days left in the campaign.