We first starting thinking about a television program targeting the 16 million people in the United States affected by an autism spectrum disorder nearly three years ago. Over the next year as we pitched cable channels and network programming executives, we learned we weren’t the first who thought such a show could make it. But as TV program buyers continued to agonize over where there was an audience for our kind of television, or whether the subject was “to depressing,” we developed growing concerns of our own.
The more we learned about families with family members on the spectrum, the more we became convinced that legacy “appointment television” wasn’t for them. Their lives were so fluid and rapidly changing that sitting down for a television show at a set time every day wasn’t an option. Our audience needed programs they could watch when they wanted to watch them. In legacy television terms, that meant cable with a DVR option so they could time-shift the show.
We were also coming to understand that the early intervention therapies that were giving us all such hope, were also very expensive. So the folks who needed the most expensive cable service were also some who could least afford it. So we changed direction and launched on set-top boxes and connected televisions. Our first platform is Roku, which works with all televisions, even old CRT-style standard definition TVs.
Because autism is so poorly understood, because so much more research is needed (and not being funded), and because so many organizations are controversial and there’s no consensus on the best way to bring about change, our mission is to provide a space where competing theories, treatments and ideas can be compared.
We therefore expect a lot of our viewers. Until much more is known about these disorders, families, caregivers, and people on the spectrum themselves must decide what is right for them, what theories resonate with them, and which do not. We are not here to diagnose or suggest treatments, but we are here to be one part of an informational support system that should include medical professionals. Choosing the right set of professionals represent important decisions because there are a great deal of differences in their treatment methods.
At this point, to watch us, you need a Roku set-top box and an Internet feed fast enought to support one. That typically means DSL, cable modem, or some kind of Internet delivery system that doesn’t charge per megabyte since streaming can eat up bandwidth pretty quickly. You can buy Roku players at most big box stores: Target, Costco, Sam’s. Most electronics stores carry them as well: Radio Shack, Best Buy, CompUSA.
Our next platforms will be connected televisions; TVs prewired to connect to the internet and display programming with no external devices needed. We’ll be rolling out on two new brands within 60 days. Then we’ll support tablets, gaming consoles and more set-top boxes so that we can reach everybody in their traditional TV-viewing environments.
We’ve been concentrating on programming. In addition to what you see here, we’re developing much more children’s material, customzed for children on the spectrum. All of our program is sensory-friendly. We try to shy away from explosions, loud noises, extended series of frenetic brightness and color changes, and anything that could trigger an epileptic attack, because our audience has a higher sensitivity to these things.
We have 20 hours of programming currently streaming with another 40 hours recorded and being post-produced for air. So if you can’t wait to see us, go buy a Roku, if you already have a connected TV where you watch Netflix, or Hulu or Vudu, watch your channel store closely because one day, we’ll be there.