Make the most of the online Autism community, Part 2 – Facebook

At this point, you don’t even have to be on the Internet at all to still be able to recognize the name, Facebook. It’s the largest of the social networking websites, meaning that it brings together friends, family, co-workers and more and provides you with the tools you need to share your lives, such as photos, videos, links, notes, games and more.

The thing about Facebook is that it also has a few ways to to help you support the cause you are passionate about, let’s say…. Autism!

1. Causes

Causes is the section of Facebook where you can donate to your favourite charities or even invite others to donate, or simply join with you. The causes you join will appear on your main profile page in the Info tab. This will also keep you in the loop of what they are doing, providing they send out periodic newsletters or updates (not all of them do).

Causes is a great way to give/donate and to show who you support, but not a huge inroads into the community. But it’s definitely a great place to start.

http://apps.facebook.com/causes

2. Groups

There are a lot of Autism Groups but a Group is basically considered to be an extension of a personal account. As such, you can join them and share amongst the group but keep in mind that they’re most likely to be people like you and I administering them and doing with them as they please.

That’s definitely not a bad thing, the goal is to make the most of the online Autism community and as such, these groups are invaluable for discussing the topics of the group.

Groups are NOT indexed by search engines such as Google, so what ever you do there is within the confines of the group. If you are shy or just getting started, finding a small’ish group of like minded individuals discussing a topic you feel strongly about is a great way to get started.

For discussing causes in general, groups offer you the best freedoms as they aren’t usually specific to a person or company or brand.

Autism Groups – http://www.facebook.com/search/?flt=1&q=autism&o=69

3. Pages

Pages are basically profile pages but instead of people, they’re companies, organizations, celebrities, products… just about anything to be truly honest but usually is a thing or person. For example, you would make a Group on people who love bananas while you’d make a Page on banana peels…  and people would become fans.

Speaking of which, instead of being friends of these Pages, you are instead a fan.

As a fan, discussion is often limited to the discussion forums, rather than right on the wall (although many do allow wall posts) and discussions are almost always confined to the top of the Page itself. For example, the Autism Speaks Facebook Page is a place to discuss Autism Speaks, not necessarily Autism in general.

Pages actually are indexed by search engines, such as Google, which means that the information found within may be read by anyone anywhere if they find it in a search.

If you are sharing links to your website, information you feel is important or you just want to get your name out there, this can be quite valuable as their pages may have well established rankings already. If you wish to ease into the community unnoticed, this might not work out well for you.

If it’s information you would like to have, right from the horses mouth (so to speak), then joining Pages is a great place to start as it gives you a direct link to the people that you might otherwise have to wait on hold for hours by phone to talk to.

Of course, you can’t forget the community surrounding the Page of which you join. If you support or believe in a charity strongly, joining their page and discussing that charity and their events/benefits with other supporters is a great way to get started. You can all relate and share common goals.

Autism Pages – http://www.facebook.com/search/?flt=1&q=autism&o=65

4. Events

Events almost take care of themselves as you begin joining Groups and Pages, as any events they hold will automatically be sent to your notifications… however, you may want to know what events are being held without knowing what Groups or Pages to join ahead of time, for that you use the search.

The Events search allows you to search by keyword, just like everything else but it also allows you to drill down which ‘type’ of event you wish to find, such as ’causes’. You can also narrow down the time line, should you be out of town for the next week but want to see what’s happening in 2 weeks.

Events can consist of just about anything that you can attend… concerts, walks, runs, bbq’s, sporting events… you name it. If it’s something you could be at, it’ll be listed as an Event.

Autism Events – http://www.facebook.com/search/?flt=1&q=autism&o=4

5. Search

By now, you should have noticed that each link in each section already takes you to the search, just different parts of it. This really shouldn’t even need to be covered but it does need to be and this is why: most people forget it exists!!

On just about every single page of Facebook that you can visit, there is a white box at the very top with the word ‘Search’ on the left and a magnifying glass on the right.

This little magical box will start auto filling in listings for you as you type, which is very handy, but in this case, I implore you to ignore it. Type in your desire, for example, ‘Autism’ and let it fill in the listings… and then mouse to the very bottom of the list where it says ‘See More Results for Autism’ and click on that.

This is what will take you to the search results page with the filter on the left, which allows you to be more specific with Groups, Pages, Events and more. You can even see what friends are saying about Autism or everyone else (if their privacy settings allow it).

If your favourite Autism group, charity, magazine, etc is on Facebook, this is a great way to find them.

Search – http://www.facebook.com/search/

Conclusion

Facebook is mostly about friends and family and connecting with people you haven’t heard from in a while, but it can be a valuable tool for finding like minded people or even hearing from (or talking to) corporations/charities that you can’t otherwise get that close to.

Never ever forget that search bar is there, use it to find what you are interested in. Also, let your mouse clicks take you forward using the ‘Favorite Pages’ box in the left column.

Many Groups and Pages are able to pick other Groups and Pages to be members/fans of themselves and will list them in a box in the left column for you to see. Naturally, these will be something that should coincide with the Group or Page you are already looking at. You may find others that also share your interests.

Once you are searching and going from Group to Group or Page to Page, you’ll quickly find a lot of people who share your thoughts and feelings and when you do, you’ll either form friendships on those pages or those people will be sending you friend requests to actually begin sharing more of your lives than just your thoughts on a specific topic.

Before you know it, your newsfeed, notifications, messages and even your friend list will be filling up quickly. Add in those Events and you’ll be meeting new people face to face and taking the ‘online’ Autism community to the next level!

About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of http://www.stuartduncan.name. My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.

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One Response to Make the most of the online Autism community, Part 2 – Facebook

  1. Amanda Broadfoot September 29, 2010 at 10:55 pm #

    That was really informative. Thanks for the link to autism groups – a big help!

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