App helps people with special needs make new friends

Want to help people with special needs find new friends? There's an app for that. 

It's called Making Authentic Friendships. The initials stand for Juliana Fetherman's brother Michael. The 21-year-old is on the autism spectrum and has ADHD. 

"He was always really lonely due to his lack of social skills and friends," she said. "I always had plans on the weekend and he never would. It was hard for me and my parents to see." 

The app, which is free to use, can be accessed through the website. Users have to be at least 13 years old and feel comfortable sharing their age, diagnosis, interests and geographic location. 

Matches are found based on that criteria and users are given the option to chat. 

Conversations are monitored by administrative staff. Prompts help users, like Michael, to maintain a discussion. 

Making Authentic Friendships has users in 30 states, 12 countries, and 5 continents. The plan is to make the web app available on Google Play and the App Store later this year. 


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