Heart of Detroit: Birdhouse for Autism app

By Mitch Albom
Troy A. Blevins, Online Editor, Producer (@troyblevins)
Published On: Feb 06 2014 05:40:00 PM EST

Autistic children are both a blessing and a challenge. Danielle Gillman, mother of 9-year-old Brodie, quickly discovered her biggest challenge was keeping information organized.

DETROIT -

Autistic children are both a blessing and a challenge. Danielle Gillman, mother of 9-year-old Brodie, quickly discovered her biggest challenge was keeping information organized.

"How she was reacting to different treatments or different supplements or medications, how certain amount of sleep would affect her mood or behavior or diet," said Gillman.

"When I came into their lives, Dani was taking these notes like she was saying and she had been using paper notebooks, and I was thinking, 'You're tech-savvy, you use an iPhone, you use computers,'" said business partner Ben Chutz.

Birdhouse for Autism 2

Two years ago, they created Birdhouse for Autism, an app that lets families chart everything from medications to behavior patterns, to doctors appointments.

"I also track her sleep and her digestive issues and moods, behaviors and meltdowns and any circumstances surrounding the meltdowns that I can over time be able to understand and see patterns," said Gillman.

Sharing those sorts of details can be critical for proper diagnosis and for a sense of order in an often chaotic home life -- a reason Birdhouse for Autism is now being used by families around America and several foreign countries.

"We just got a family in Finland who signed up and offered to translate our website into Finnish," said Ben.

"Having a child with autism can feel very isolating so being able to connect with a network of people going through the same experience has been invaluable for me," said Gillman.

"Our goal isn't to find a cure or even to find a reason, and our goal isn't even to say it's good or bad. Our goal is to say, 'OK, well, you are living with autism now. It is in your family and how can we give you the tools that you need to succeed?'" said Ben.

Using technology to provide those tools, Gillman, Ben and Birdhouse for Autism are making a challenging life a bit easier for others around the world and in the heart of Detroit.

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