Autism Connect is a social networking site for people with autism and their families. It is a safe space to interact with others and share knowledge and experiences. Join now to get started!

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How to use the site

  • Site - "site" is a shortened version of the word "website". The website is the whole of Autism West Midlands Connect. The website is made up of several "pages".
  • Page - a "page" is one part of Autism West Midlands Connect. Pages have different information on them, this may include writing, images and video, it may also be things that you can add to or that has been added by other users. Some pages allow you to add things to them and some pages have information added by Autism West Midlands.
  • Link - A link is writing that does something when you click on it. Links usually look different to the other writing on the page and sometimes change slightly when you click on them; for example, they may get underlined when you hover your mouse pointer over them. When you click on them, something should happen. For example, clicking a link may take you to a new page or bring up more information on the page you are looking at.
  • Mouse pointer - The mouse is what you use to click on things. The mouse pointer is a little symbol on your computer screen that shows you where the mouse would click if you pressed a button. You can put this onto things without clicking and this is called "hovering".
  • Hover - By moving your mouse around, you can put your mouse pointer over anything that is shown on your computer screen. If you put your mouse pointer on something but do not click, it is called 'hovering'.
  • Click - By moving your mouse around, you can put your mouse pointer over anything that is shown on your computer screen. If you then press one of the buttons on your mouse, this is called 'clicking'. There are always 2 buttons on a mouse, a left hand button and a right hand button. Sometimes there are also other buttons but these are not needed for AWM Connect. The left hand button is used for 'clicking' as described here. The right hand button will bring up a list of things you can do, none of which are needed for AWM Connect.
  • Button - a button is like a link because when you click it, something should happen. A button is different to a link because it is a shape or picture that you click on, instead of writing.
  • Tab - a tab is like a button or a link because when you click it, something should happen. A tab is different to a button or a link because it looks a certain way; it is usually used to take you to a different page.
  • Box - a box can be any rectangle on the website. Sometimes the box is white and when you click in it, a line appears like this:
    • This means that it is a "text box" and you can type in it. This is how you will type in your details when you make a new profile and also how you add updates, questions and comments.
    • There are also smaller boxes on AWM Connect that you can click on to make a 'tick' appear. These are 'tick boxes'
  • Tick - a tick is a small symbol that usually means 'yes' or 'good'. It looks like this: On AWM Connect, if you click on a 'tick box' and make a tick appear, it means you want to choose whatever the tick box is next to. One example is on the 'add a family member' page, where you tick the behaviours and interventions that your family member has.
  • Account - an account is a record of your details. Every user has an account that they have to log in to. The account remembers the things you do and the things that other people have said and done in reply to you.
  • Profile - your profile is a page on the site where you can add all of the details you want to tell to the other users of the site.
 

Before you start using the site, you will need to login. This means that you tell us who you are using your email address. This helps us to keep you and the other users safe and means you can use all of the great things on the site.

You also need a password. This is a secret word that only you know. This is how you prove only you are using your account. If you tell your password to anyone else then they can use your account to post things and pretend to be you. Then they might post things that you don't want posted on your profile.

But if you do accidentally tell someone your password, don't worry. You should login to your account and just change the password (we'll explain how to do that further down the page). If you think someone else has used your account, contact Autism West Midlands and let us know so that we can try to help you to fix the problem.

 

Creating an account

When you visit the Connect homepage you can click on the "Join us" link that is in the top right corner. This will take you to a page with boxes for you to type in your details. Type your details into each box. Anything with a red asterisk ( * ) next to it is something that you have to include. If there is no asterisk ( * ) next to it then you can choose whether you want to include it.

There are two small boxes at the bottom of this section. If you click on a box a small tick should appear. The tick means that you agree with the sentence next to the box. You have to be 18 years old or over and agree to our terms and conditions to use the site. You can read these by clicking here . The other sentence asks if you would like to hear news and more information from AWM, this will only be sent to you by us and your information will not be shared with any other organisation. We also promise to only send you useful updates and news, we will not send you too many messages, or messages that are not about AWM or connect. You do not have to agree with this if you don't want to.

If you change your mind about joining, you can click "Cancel" and none of the details you typed in will be saved. You can also just close the webpage or Internet browser and your details will not be saved.

Once you have filled in your information, click "Create a New Account". This will make your account. You will not be able to login until you have verified your account. You will receive an email explaining how to do this and then you will be ready to login.

Verifying your account

Once you have created an account you will see a page asking for your login details. There will also be a blue box saying: "You have registered successfully. Please check your email to activate your account. If you cannot find this email, please check your Junk Mail folder."

Once you have finished making your account, you will need to verify it. This means that AWM check that everything is OK with the details you typed in and that you are sure you want to join the site. You do this by clicking on a link in an email that we will send to you.

You need to check your email inbox for an email from AWM Connect asking you to verify your account. If you cannot see this in your inbox, please check your Junk Mail folder. If you still have not received the email after a few minutes, please contact AWM.

Once you receive the email, please follow the instructions it gives you. There will be a link to click on, click on this to verify your account. Clicking the link will take you to the login page.

Logging in

When you visit the Connect homepage you can click on the "Login" link that is in the top right hand corner. This will bring up a box asking for you to type your email address and password. There is also a small box with "remember me" next to it. If you click on the box, a tick should appear. When this box is ticked, it means that your computer will remember the email address and password you used to login and will put them in automatically next time you visit the site so you won't have to login again. Do not do this if you are sharing a computer with other people as it will use your details for them as well and they may get access to your account. Then you need to click the button that says, "Sign in Now" and you will login to your account.

If you click on any links or tabs to pages that can only be looked at by users of the site. You will see a page that asks you to log in. Here you need to type in your email address and password and choose if you want to tick the "remember me" box (explained above), then click the "Sign in Now" button and you will login to your account.

Signing in with Facebook

When you visit the Connect homepage you can click on the "Sign in with Facebook" button that is in the top right hand corner. This will log you in with your Facebook details as well as your current Facebook profile picture.

You can also click "login" in the top right hand corner and a box will appear asking for your log in details. There is another "Sign in with Facebook" button here and you can click this to sign in with your Facebook information and picture.

If you click on any links or tabs to pages that can only be looked at by users of the site. You will see a page that asks you to log in. Here you can click on a button that says, "Sign in with Facebook" and this will log you in with your Facebook information and picture.

 

Your profile is a page that has your details on it. The other users of the site can see this page and so you should be careful not to put things that are private onto your profile. You can add your interests, photos and family members (including yourself) to your profile. But remember that there are also things that your family members wouldn't want you to tell strangers so it is best not to write those things on your profile. If you aren't sure, try checking with that family member to find out what they are happy for you to write about them.

Changing your account details

Once you have created an account, you may want to change your password, email address or other details for your account. You can do this by first logging in to the site. Then, find the purple button in the top right hand corner of any page. This has your profile picture and your name and then a small arrow. Click on the arrow and you will see a drop down menu. Click on "Account Settings". This will take you to a page where you can edit your profile details.

Find the detail you would like to change and click on the "Edit" link next to it. This will then bring up text boxes where you can type in the new details.

Completing your profile

When you are on the "Activity" page, you will see your profile details. On the left hand side of this page it will say, "You've Completed % Of Your Profile" with a number before the % sign. This is how much of your profile has been filled in with information. You do not have to complete 100% (all) of your profile, just add what you want to.

There may also be text asking you to do different things. One example is "Share your Story". You can click on these and you will be taken to a page where you can add more information to your profile. These will also have a percentage next to them, such as "+20%". The percentage tells you how much of your profile you will be finishing by clicking on the link and filling in the information it asks for.

Adding a photo

You can add a photo to your account to show others what you look like. It can be good to have photos so people can see whom they are talking to. You can use any picture of yourself that you like, it can be a drawing or cartoon as well as a photo. But please use a photo that shows your face and do not use a photo of anyone else. If you would prefer not to use your own picture then you don't need to add a picture at all.

To add the picture, you can either choose the photo to upload on your sign up page, where it has this option.

Or, if you want to add a picture later, you can go to the "Activity" page and put your mouse pointer onto your current photo. Your photo will fade and a small pink circle with a + sign will appear. Click on the plus sign and you will be able to choose a picture from your computer, to add.

Changing your photo

If you have signed in with Facebook, the site will automatically use your Facebook profile picture. If you would like to change this you need to go to the "Activity" page and put your mouse pointer onto your current photo. Your photo will fade and a small pink circle with a + sign will appear. Click on the plus sign and you will be able to choose a picture from your computer, to add.

You can also change your photo if you have not signed in with Facebook. You do this in exactly the same way as outlined above: go to the "Activity" page and put your mouse pointer onto your current photo. Your photo will fade and a small pink circle with a + sign will appear. Click on the plus sign and you will be able to choose a picture from your computer, to add.

Adding "your story"

When you are on the "Activity" page, you should click on the "My Story" tab. This will bring up a page with some text boxes. The writing above these tells you what sort of thing you should write in each box. Write as much or as little as you are comfortable with; you can also leave boxes blank if you don't want to write anything. Remember, this can be seen by other users of the site so do not include private or personal information that you do not want to share with strangers.

Once you have completed the sections you want to write in, click the "Create" button at the bottom of the page.

If you ever want to edit this information, you can come back to this page and simply edit the text. Once you have done this, click on the "Save" button at the bottom of the page.

Adding a family member

When you are on the "Activity" page, you should click on the "My Family" tab. This will bring up a page with a purple button that says, "Add a family member", click on this. This will take you to a page that has text boxes for you to type in your family member's details and you can add a photo if you want. Remember, other site users can see this so only post photos if you are comfortable with others seeing them. There is also a box you can tick to say that the person you are adding is you. You can add any members of your family, including those without any diagnosis.

There are then long lists of interventions, behaviours, repetitive behaviours, associated disorders, medications, and communication and social behaviours. Each one has a small box next to it. If you click on any of these boxes a small tick will appear. This means you have selected that item. You should select whichever of these are relevant to the family member you are adding. You can select as few or as many as you like. These WILL NOT appear on the "My Family" page, but other people will be able to search by these on the "Find People" page, if they have similar experiences.

When you have finished this, you should click the "Add" button at the bottom of the page. You can also click "Cancel" and this will take you back to the "My Family" page and not save your information.

Editing a family member

Editing a family member means changing the information you have typed about them. You can also change their picture and change the behaviours and interventions you have ticked for them. When you are on the "Activity" page, you should click on the "My Family" tab. This will bring up a page with a list of any family members you have added. Each family member will have button that says, "Edit family member" next to it, on the right hand side. Click on this to bring up the information you added for that family member, you can edit any part of this.

Removing a family member

Removing a family member means deleting their information from the site. It will make their information disappear but you can add them again later if you want to. If you just want to chage one part of the information you typed about them, or the picture you have chosen, you can "edit" them instead. When you are on the "Activity" page, you should click on the "My Family" tab. This will bring up a page with a list of any family members you have added. Each family member will have a small cross next to it, on the right hand side. Click this to remove the family member.

 

One of the great parts of using the site is posting updates, pictures and links. You can share your thoughts and ideas as well as things that you think might be helpful to other people. Other users of the site can see these posts, and so you should be careful not to post anything you don't want other people to see. You can post anything as a status update, as long as it conforms to our Code of conduct .

Posting status updates

When you are on the "Activity" page, if you scroll down, you will see a row of tabs. These will allow you to filter which posts you see. The "My Activity" tab will show your most recent posts, the "My Circle Activity" tab will show you the most recent posts from people in your circle and the "All Activity" tab will show you all the public post. There is a box above these where you can type your new status update. You can also attach a link or photo. Once you have finished, click the "Post Update" button under the box.

You can also post an update on the Home page. There is a purple title: "TELL US ABOUT YOUR DAY" and a box underneath this. This is where you can type a status update; you can also attach a link or photo. Then click the "Post Update" button to post your update. Remember, statuses can be seen by other users so only post something you don't mind other people seeing.

Posting links

When you are on the "Activity" page, if you scroll down, you will see a row of tabs. These will allow you to filter which posts you see. The "My Activity" tab will show your most recent posts, the "My Circle Activity" tab will show you the most recent posts from people in your circle and the "All Activity" tab will show you all the public posts. There is a button that says "Attach link", click on this and type in the address of the website (you can also copy and paste the address into the box). Click on the purple button that says, "enter". Then, choose a picture to show with the link, from the ones shown. Some websites do not have pictures for you to choose so do not worry if none appear. Click on the turquoise button that says "Attach link". Now you can either click "Post Update" to just post the link, or you can type something about the link in the text box and then click "Post Update". If you make a mistake, you can click the "Delete" button.

You can also post an update on the Home page. There is a purple title: "TELL US ABOUT YOUR DAY" and a box underneath this. There is a button that says "Attach link", click on this and type in the address of the website (you can also copy and paste the address into the box). Click on the purple button that says, "enter". Then, choose a picture to show with the link, from the ones shown. Some websites do not have pictures for you to choose so do not worry if none appear. Click on the turquoise button that says "Attach link". Now you can either click "Post Update" to just post the link, or you can type something about the link in the text box and then click "Post Update". If you make a mistake, you can click the "Delete" button. Remember, links can be seen by other users so only post something you don't mind other people seeing.

Posting images

When you are on the "Activity" page, if you scroll down, you will see a row of tabs. These will allow you to filter which posts you see. The "My Activity" tab will show your most recent posts, the "My Circle Activity" tab will show you the most recent posts from people in your circle and the "All Activity" tab will show you all the public posts. There is a button that says "Attach picture", click on this and then click on the grey button that says, "Browse". Choose which picture you would like to post, from the folders on your computer then click on the turquoise button that says "Attach picture". Now you can either click "Post Update" to just post the picture, or you can type something about the link in the text box and then click "Post Update". If you make a mistake, you can click the "Delete" button.

You can also post an update on the Home page. There is a purple title: "TELL US ABOUT YOUR DAY" and a box underneath this. There is a button that says "Attach picture", click on this and then click on the grey button that says, "Browse". Choose which picture you would like to post, from the folders on your computer then click on the turquoise button that says "Attach picture". Now you can either click "Post Update" to just post the picture, or you can type something about the link in the text box and then click "Post Update". If you make a mistake, you can click the "Delete" button. Remember, pictures can be seen by other users so only post something you don't mind other people seeing.

 

There are several ways you can find other users from the site. You will see updates, questions, services and reviews posted by other users and you can click on their names to view their profiles. You can also search for people based on who they are, what they do or where they live, amongst other things. Each of these is outlined below. These ways of searching will help you to find other people like you who might have similar experiences.

Viewing other people's profiles

You can view other people's profiles by clicking on their name when it appears next to statuses, comments, questions and answers. This is because names are made into links by the site and will redirect you to that person's profile.

You can also view people's profiles by using the "Find People" page and clicking on the rectangle with their picture and information. This will take you to their profile page.

When searching for other people, you can use any of the methods below, or you can use them together. For example, you could find a mother, of a child with Asperger syndrome, who lives within 2 miles of your local area.

Finding people you know

Click on the "Find People" button at the top of the page. This will take you to the "Find People" page, which has rectangles with people's pictures and the most important information from their profile. There are also boxes in which you can type details of people you would like to find. You can type a user's name to find someone with a particular name, type an email address to find someone whose email address you know.

Finding people in your area

To find other people who live near to you, you can type in a city or town to find people who say they are from there. Alternatively, you can type in a local authority area to find people from a particular area. Next to the "local authority area" text box is a button with a little symbol on it that looks like an upside down teardrop. If you click on this you will see a slider that you can use to find people within different distances from the local authority area you typed in.

Finding people who have similar experiences to you

On the left hand side of the "Find People" page there are four drop down menus and an "advanced search" link. If you click on any of the dropdown menus you can choose from the options and search for people who fit that description. You can search for people based on their role, what family members they have, what diagnoses they have added for their family members, and the age of the members of their family that they have added.

You can also click on the "advanced search" link. This will bring up 2 more links, "Behaviours" and "Interventions". You can also click on these. Clicking on "Behaviours" will bring up a list of types of behaviour. You can click on the squares next to each word; this will make a tick appear in the square. This means you have selected to search for people who ticked that behaviour for a member of their family, when they added their details to the site.

Clicking on "Interventions" will bring up a list of interventions and medications. You can click on the box next to any of these to search for people who selected those things when adding a family member. You can add as many or as few as you like.

 

This is a socialand that means you are encouraged to meet and talk to other users. You don't have to do this if you aren't interested, but it is the best way to make the most of the site. There are lots of ways that you can talk to other users and these are all outlined here:

Adding people to your circle

When you are on someone else's profile page, there is a turquoise button under their photo that says, "Add to circle". Click on this button to add that person to your circle. Adding a person to your circle means that they can see all of your posts, including the ones marked as "post to my circle" when you post them. You will also be able to see all of their updates on your "Activity" page.

Removing people from your circle

When you are on the "Activity" page , click on the turquoise tab that says "My Circle". Now click on the tab, beneath the turquoise row of tabs, that says Next to each provider you have in your circle, there is a purple button that says "People" and has a number in brackets ( ) next to it. People in your circle will have a rectangle with their picture and details written in it. There is also a small cross in a circle. Click on this to remove the user from your circle. A box will appear asking if you are sure you want to delete the user, click the turquoise button that says "OK" if you are sure, or click the grey button that says "Cancel" if you change your mind.

Blocking another user

You can block another user from seeing any updates that you post

Reading other peoples' status updates

You can see other people's status updates on two of the main pages. The first is on the "Home" page; the second is when you are on the "Activity" page.

On the "Home" page, recent updates appear under the title: "LATEST POSTS".

On the "Activity" page, if you scroll down, you will see a row of tabs. These will allow you to filter which posts you see. The "My Circle Activity" tab will show you the most recent posts from people in your circle and the "All Activity" tab will show you all the public posts.

Commenting on other people's updates

Beneath each status update there is a row of buttons. You can click on each of these to do different things. To comment on a status, click on the button with a speech bubble and "Add a comment" on it. A box will appear, type in your comment and then click the "submit" button to post your comment.

Sharing another person's update

Sharing a status will post that status again, but as an update from you. You can do this if you think someone has posted something particularly interesting and helpful that you would like other people to see.

Beneath each status update there is a row of buttons. You can click on each of these to do different things. To share a status, click on the button with an arrow and "Share" on it.

Liking another person's update

Liking another person's status update will send them a notification telling them that you liked what they said. You can do this to show people that you liked what they said, agree with their point or to let them know that you found their update useful.

Beneath each status update there is a row of buttons. You can click on each of these to do different things. To like a status, click on the button with a 'thumbs up', the word "Like" and a number in brackets on it. The number in brackets shows how many people have liked that status. The number will go up by 1 when you click on the button, to add your like to the total number of likes. The writing and symbols on the button will also go blue to show that you have liked the status. If you click on the button again, the number in brackets will go down by 1 and the word and symbols will go back to grey, this is to show that you no longer 'like' the item.You can only 'like' once per status, question, comment or reply.

Sending a hug

You might send a hug to another user to show that you want to cheer them up or make them happy. If someone posts a status saying they are having a bad day, it might make them smile to know someone cares and has sent them a hug. You can send someone a hug whenever you want though.

Beneath each status update there is a row of buttons. You can click on each of these to do different things. To send a hug to someone, click on the button with a smiley face, the word "Hug" and a number in brackets on it. The number in brackets shows how many people have sent a hug for that status. The number will go up by 1 when you click on the button, to add your hug to the total number of hugs. The writing and symbols on the button will also go blue to show that you have sent a hug for this status. If you click on the button again, the number in brackets will go down by 1 and the word and symbols will go back to grey, this is to show that you are no longer sending a hug. You can only send a hug once per status, question, comment or reply.

Checking notifications

Notifications are very short messages that tell you when somebody has done something on your profile. This includes sending you a hug, commenting on your status update and liking something that you said. You will also get a notification when someone who is in your circle does something. This is so you can look at what other people you know are doing.

When you visit the site, there is a purple button in the top right corner, with your picture and name on it and a small arrow. If you have notifications to look at, there will also be a small turquoise circle with a number written on it. This number tells you how many notifications you have to look at. If you click on the small arrow on the purple button, a drop down menu will appear with words written on it. You can click on the words to go to different pages. If you click on "notifications" you will see a page with a list of all of the things that have happened since you last looked at your notifications page, or since you started on the site, if you haven't looked at the notifications page before.

Sending a private message

When you are on someone else's profile page, there is a purple button under their photo that says "Send Message". You should click on this. This will take you to the Inbox page and there is a text box where you can type a message. You can also attach a photo, link or both. When your message is complete, click on the turquoise "Send Message" button.

You can also send a message by clicking on the small arrow on the purple button in the top right hand corner of the site - this is the same on every page. The arrow is next to a small photo of you and your name. Clicking on the arrow will make a drop down menu appear. Click on "Inbox" which is next to a picture of an envelope. This will take you to the Inbox page.

 

The events section of the site is the page where you can add events that you are planning. You can also see events that have been added by other people and you can tell them that you will be going to their event. The events that are added should be events that you want to invite other users of the site to come to. This could include social groups, information sessions, family days as well as any other event, particularly events related to autism. Remember, other users can see your events so only add events that you want other users to know about and come to, if they can. You can choose to make an event "private" but that does not mean that only you can see that event. It actually means that people in your circle can see it. It is called private because people who are not in your circle cannot see it. Do not include events like doctor's appointments, family dinners or any event that you want to do on your own. Please also remember that other people may add events that they want to tell people about but do not want people to come along to. If you aren't sure then you can send a message to the person who added the event and ask them if they would like you to go to their event. If you think something should not be on the events page or your calendar, please report it to AWM and we will check.

Adding an event

You can add your own events to the site. This is a way of telling other people about something you have planned, and to invite them to join you. You can tell everyone on the site about your plans or you can say the event is "private" which means you will only tell the people in your circle about it.

To add an event, go to the "Events/Calendar" page. Click on the "Create New Event" tab. Type in all the details for the event you want to add then choose whether you are the organiser for the event or not. If it is an event run by an organisation or someone you know then you are not the organiser so click the little circle next to "No", then the will see more boxes for you to type in the details for the person organising the event. Make sure that you have permission from the organiser to add the event to the site.

If you are the organiser of the event then click on the little circle next to "Yes" and the event will include a link to your profile so people can contact you for more information.

You can also click the little box next to "This is a private event", only click this if you want it to be seen just by the people in your circle. If you want everyone to see the event, do not click this box.

When you have finished, click "Add event". If you change your mind, click "Cancel".

Finding events

You can find events that other people have added to the website in two ways. First, go to the "Events/Calendar" page and a list of upcoming events will be shown. You can click on each event to find out more information about it. You can also search for events by the Local Authority where they are taking place and by the type of event you are interested in.

You can also look at what events are on each day by clicking on the Calendar tab. You can click on the square for the day you are interested in and you will see a list of the events for that day. You can also click the links on the left hand side of the page to see events sorted by public, private and events you are attending.

Attending an event

To attend an event, go to the "Events/Calendar" page. Next to each event is a button that says "Attend event", click on this to say you are attending the event. If you have said that you are the organiser for an event then you will automatically be marked as attending. If you are attending an event then the button next to it will say "You are attending this event" and will go from grey to green.

Calendars

You can also see events by clicking on the "Calendar" tab. Each square is a different day. All of the squares have a number on them, which is the date. Some of the squares also have writing on them. The writing tells you how many events are planned on that day. You can double click on the day to see a list of the events that are planned for that day.

You can click on the button above the big calendar that says "My Calendar" to just see the events that you have planned and the events that you have said you would go to.

You can also click on the "Year", "Month", "Week" and "Day" buttons to change how many days you can see at a time on your calendar. You can click on the "Prev", "Today" and "Next" buttons too. These buttons show you older dates, the most recent dates and dates further into the future. This will help you see events that have happened before and help you to plan what events you want to go to in the future.

 

The Q+A section of the siteis a page where you can see questions asked by other users of the site, answer their questions and write your own. You should only write questions that you would like other people to answer, do not write anything private that you would not want others to read. All questions and answers must follow our Code of Conduct. You can also search for questions that other people have asked before. Please try searching for your question before adding it. This is because, if you add the question more than once, the answers to the question will not all be in the same place. This will mean that it will be more difficult for people to help you and the other people who are interested in that question.

Finding questions that might help you

You can search for questions that have already been asked by other users. This will help you to find out if another user has asked the same question before and also help you to find answers that other users have already typed.

You can search for questions by going to the "Q+A" page and using the text box to type in keywords. A key word is a word that is most important to your question. For example, if your question is "should I home school my child?", the key words are "home", "school" and "child". They are the words that tell you what the sentence is about. When a question is added, the user who adds it chooses the key words that will help others to find the question.

Type in as many keywords as you like and click the button that says "Search". This will make all of the questions that have your keywords in them - or are tagged with your keywords - appear in a list.

Adding a question

If you can't find a question that helps you or answers your question, you can add a question. To do this, you need to go to the "Q+A" page and click on the purple button that says "Ask Now". This will make a box appear with text boxes for you to type in information. You type your question in the first box - this will tell people exactly what you want an answer to - then you type keywords in the next box. You can use as many keywords as you like but make sure that they are all words that are important to your question. These will help people find your question later so they should be the most important words in your question.

In the last box you can give more detail about your question. The more detail you type, the easier it will be for other people to answer your question. But remember that other people can see your question and the detail you add so do not include anything you don't want other people to see. All questions must also follow our Code of Conduct.

You can add as many questions as you like but please do not add the same question more than once. It is possible that no one will answer your question; this probably means that people don't know how to help. This will not change if you add the question a second time.

Replying to a question

If you find a question that you think you can answer then you can click on the button underneath it, with a speech bubble and "Reply" written on it. This will make a box appear under the question. Type your reply in this box and then click on the "Submit" button. Your reply will then appear underneath the question.

You can see older replies to the question underneath yours. If there are a lot of replies then you will need to click on the button that says "Load More", this will make the other answers appear.You can also reply to other people's replies.

Remember that your replies can be seen by anyone and so you should not type anything that you don't want other people to see. All replies must also follow our Code of Conduct.

You should only post a reply if you have an answer to the question; if you have something that might help other people answer the question; if you want to say that you also have the same question and would like to see people's answers or if you want to say something nice to comfort or support the person who has asked the question or the person who has written a reply.

The "Need replies" tab

When you are on the "Q+A" page, there are 3 tabs underneath the text box that you use to search for questions. One of these tabs has "Need Replies" on it. If you click on that tab, you will see a list of questions that have been asked by other people that don't have any answers yet. You can use this page to check if there are any questions that need an answer and then you can add one if you have any help or advice to offer.

Rating helpful replies

Underneath each question and reply there is a small box with the word "Helpful" next to it. If you click on the small box then a tick will appear. This tick shows that you found the question or reply helpful. This means that you thought it was a good question, a good answer or a useful piece of information. Ticking the things that you find helpful helps other people to find the things that will be useful to them. It is also a way of letting the person who wrote the question or reply, that you found their comment helpful.

When you are on the "Q+A" page, there is a tab that says "Most Helpful". This brings up a page of the most helpful questions that have been asked. The site shows you this by counting up how many people ticked "Helpful" under each question. It then shows the questions in the order of how many people found them helpful. You can look at this page to find questions that have helped other people and so might also help you.

 

The service directory is a page on the site where any user can add service providers and the services that they offer. They can then rate and review those services. You can also add those services to your circle. You would do this if you use that service, it tells other users that you use the service and think it is good.

Providers, services and categories

Each service in the directory has three different parts to it. The first part is the service "provider" – this is the company or person that organises the service. The "service" is the next part. This is whatever the company or person provides. Finally, there are "categories" which are like key words that other people can add to each service.

e.g. Autism West Midlands is a provider
Family Services is one of our services Some categories for this service are: family, children, fun, learning

Finding a service

When you are on the "Service Directory" page, there are 3 text boxes where you can type information to help you find services that might be useful to you. In the first box you can type the name of the provider to find a specific provider that you want to rate, review or add to your circle. The box to the right of the first box allows you to type in a town. There is a button next to this that looks like an upside down tear drop, you can click on this to bring up a slider. You can move this to make the site search for providers within whatever distance you set, from the town you are searching for. You can also search by category. These are the keywords that people chose when they added a service to each provider.

You can search for a provider that you already know the name of but you can also search for providers that offer a particular category of service, within an area that is reasonable for you.

Adding a provider to the site

You should search for your provider first to make sure that they have not already been added. This is because people can rate and review the service and if it is added twice then other people won't know which one to look at for reviews and advice about that provider. If you see a provider has been added twice, please report it to AWM so that we can check.

Once you are sure the provider has not been added before, you can add them. On the "Service Directory" page, near to the text boxes you can use to search for providers, there is a purple button that says "Add Now". You can click this and it will bring up a new page. This page has lots of text boxes for you to type in the details of the provider you want to add. Some of the items have a red asterisk ( * ) next to them. The red asterisk ( * ) means that you have to add that information to add the provider. Anything without a red asterisk ( * ) does not have to be added and you can choose whether you want to type that.

Once you have finished typing all of the information, click on the purple button that says "Add Business", at the bottom of the page. This will take you back to the "Service Directory" page and your service will be added. Any services you add, and the information you write about them, must follow our Code of Conduct.

Adding a provider to your circle

You can add providers to your circle. This shows other users which providers you use and think are good for other people to use. You can do this on the "Service Directory" page. Next to each provider is a purple button that says, "Add to Circle". Click on this to add a provider to your circle.

You can also click on the turquoise button next to each provider that says, "View More". This will take you to a provider page that has more detail about the provider as well as any ratings or reviews users have added. Under the picture on this page, there is a purple button that says, "Add to circle", click on this to add the provider to your circle.

Rating a provider

On the provider page, next to the picture for the provider, there are 5 stars. This shows how many stars other people have given the provider. The site works out the average of all the ratings people have added and shows this on the stars. Yellow stars are ones that the provider has and grey stars are the ones the provider doesn't have. For example, a provider that has an average of 3 stars will have 3 yellow stars and 2 grey stars.

Beneath this line of stars, there is a button that looks like a little pen and paper and a button that looks like a dustbin. Click on the button that looks like a pen and paper. This will bring up a row of grey stars and a text box. You click on the star that you want to rate the provider e.g. if you want to rate 3 stars, you click on the 3rd star from the left. This will make the stars yellow to show the rating you have given.

You can give each provider a rating of 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5, 4, 4.5 or 5 stars :

  • 0.5 stars means you think the provider is terrible
  • 1 star means you think the provider is awful
  • 1.5 stars mean you think the provider is very bad
  • 2 stars mean you think the provider is bad
  • 2.5 stars mean you think the provider is quite bad
  • 3 stars mean you think the provider is not good but not bad either
  • 3.5 stars mean you think the provider is alright
  • 4 stars mean you think the provider is good
  • 4.5 stars mean you think the provider is very good
  • 5 stars mean you think the provider is fantastic

You can choose what you want to give as a rating but please try to be honest and fair. When you give a rating you should also give a full review in the text box below the stars, to explain why you gave that rating, to help other users to understand. You can delete your review by clicking on the button that looks like a dustbin.

If you rate 4 or 5 stars then your review will appear immediately on the provider page. Any rating of 2.5 stars or less will be looked at by AWM staff before it appears on the website, low ratings without a detailed reason will not be added to the site.

Reviewing a service

You can leave a review for a provider to tell other users what you think of that provider.A text box appears when you click on the button that looks like a piece of paper and a pen – like you did to leave a rating. The box appears beneath the stars you use to leave a rating. You can type anything that you think other people might want to know about the provider but all reviews must follow our Code of Conduct and bad reviews will be checked by AWM before they are added to the site. We will allow bad reviews to be added to the site but only if you have added plenty of detail about why you have given a bad review. We will not add reviews that are too short or reviews that do not give good reasons for their bad rating.

 

Accessing resources

There are lots of resources on the site that you can look at and use. Click on "Resources" at the top of the page and a drop down menu will appear.

Hover your mouse over "Using the community" and another drop down menu will appear. Click on any of the words in this drop down menu to go to that page:

How to use the site - this page

Tutorials - how to guides for different things on the site

FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

Code of conduct - the rules about how to behave on the site

Contact us - tell us about your ideas and questions

Hover your mouse over "Learn about Autism" and another drop down menu will appear. Click on any of the words in this drop down menu to go to that page :

Information resources - information sheets and written information

Visual resources - visual guides and videos

E-learning - AWM e-learning packages

You can also click on "Blog" to see our latest blog posts as well as past blog posts. A blog is a collection of articles. These can be written by anyone. If you would like to write blog article, contact us with details of what you would like to write about. You can also click on "News" to see our latest news stories.

FAQs

We have a page on the site called "FAQs". "FAQs" means Frequently Asked Questions. You can go to the FAQs page by clicking on "resources" at the top of the page. This will bring up a drop down menu, hover your mouse over "Using the community" and another drop down menu will appear. Now click on "FAQs".

This page has a list of questions that are asked a lot or problems that people have had in the past. You can look at this page if you have any questions, because the answer may already be there. If the answer to your question is not on that page then contact AWM and we will try to help.

Contacting AWM

You can contact AWM if you have any questions to ask or ideas to share that you think would make the site better or easier to use. Please check that your question is not included in our FAQs section or our Terms of Use or Code of Conduct, before contacting us. This will make sure that we can give our attention to issues that are not explained already on the site.

If you want to contact AWM, click on "resources" at the top of the page. This will bring up a drop down menu, hover your mouse over "Using the community" and another drop down menu will appear. Now click on "Contact us".

You can also scroll to the bottom of any page on the site and, in the dark purple section at the bottom of the page, find the "Contact us" heading. Underneath this heading there are 4 buttons. Click on the button with an envelope on it. This will take you to a page with a contact form and the details of how to contact us directly. The contact form is the best way to contact us as we can get back to you as soon as possible and have all of the details of your question or comment written down so we can help you.

To use the contact form, type in the details of your comment or question into each of the text boxes. The items have a red asterisk ( * ) next to them, which means that you have to type that information to send your question or comment. Once you have finished typing, click on the purple button that says, "Send message". When you have clicked the button, the contact form will disappear, this means your message has been sent. Please add as much detail as possible to your message to help us to answer you.

Reporting to AWM

Autism West Midlands Connect is a safe place for people to talk and share their ideas and questions. We have a Code of Conduct that explains what behaviour is acceptable. This protects users of the site and their privacy. It is possible, though, that you might see something on the site that you think breaks the Code of Conduct . If you see something like this, you should report it to AWM.

The best way to report something on the site, is to report it directly. This means you use the report button next to that comment or question. Anything added to the site by a user, has a small arrow on a grey button next to it. If you click on this button you will se a drop down menu. Click on "Report to AWM". This will send us a message telling us what item you are reporting and we will be able to check it very quickly and contact you with our answer as soon as possible.

You can also contact us in the usual way but this may make it more difficult for us to find the item that you want to report.