“We aim to help ‘helicopter parents’ become ‘drone parents’,” says Founder.
September 15, 2017, St. Louis, Missouri - Hot on the heels of winning the 2017 St. Louis SBA InnovateHer Women’s Business Challenge, LIFEbinder LLC was awarded $20,000 from the Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH), through the 2016-17 Brown School of Social Work’s Social Enterprise and Innovation Competition (SEIC) at Washington University in St. Louis on Friday, September 15, 2017.
“Our team is thrilled and honored to be recognized by the Brown School at Washington University and the Missouri Foundation for Health,” said Vicki Kahn, Founder and CEO of LIFEbinder LLC. “The direction, support, and referrals from Dr. Heather Cameron and the SEIC team has been instrumental in our moving from concept to R&D, and beyond. The confidence in our vision and funding awarded from MFH infuses fresh momentum into developing PATHbinder™.”
LIFEbinder LLC, a social enterprise startup venture in St. Louis, Missouri, was developed from seed to sprout as a participant in the 2016-17 SEIC cohort. The company is developing a “Keep It Together” (KIT) system called PATHbinder™ for parents to organize and teach their autistic and developmentally-disabled teens and young adults to manage their personal support teams, preparing them for independent life after high school.
Each year, 50,000 teens with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) graduate from high school and fall off the cliff of school-aged services and supports. This requires them to transition to new medical care providers and agencies for supports, and/or re-apply for services as an adult.
As a much-needed alternative to legal guardianship of adults with ASD/DD by their parents, the team of LIFEbinder LLC believes that Supported Decision-Making is key to independent living. PATHbinder™ provides a web application and companion binder for parents to organize collected data, contacts, and documents, then train their teens to use these resources for accessing supports, and management of daily living activities. When the young person is ready to be in the driver’s seat, parents can offer background support through secondary trusted-contact access.
Kahn says that the goal is two-fold for families: First, it aims to help ‘helicopter parents become ‘drone parents’. Moms and Dads are still the safety net, but only visible when needed for support. Second, the PATHbinder™ KIT promotes critical thinking and self-regulation skills through supported decision-making, empowering young adults with ASD/DD to make informed choices, and self-determine the course of their own lives.
“Every parent wants their children to live as independently as possible. We know we won’t be able to manage everything for them their whole lives through,” said Kahn. “Young people with ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorders) and DD (Developmental Disabilities), need a little more support during major life transitions. We need tools like PATHbinder™ to teach our kids how to manage day-to-day living, so they can dream bigger and live their best lives.”
During summer 2017, LIFEbinder LLC developed a prototype of the companion binder, and began the development process for creating the PATHbinder™ web application. Intern support through the Brown School and Skandalaris Center at Washington University in St. Louis provided the company with dedicated students who applied to join LIFEbinder LLC during the University’s summer break.
The 2016-17 SEIC Awards were presented during the 2017-18 SEIC Kickoff event at the Paraquad Health and Wellness Center in St. Louis. In her opening remarks, Mary M. McKay, Dean of the Brown School of Social Work, thanked attendees and noted that programs such as the SEIC bring St. Louisans together, to develop and implement ideas for solutions that have positive social impact and contribute to lasting change in our communities.
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For more information about LIFEbinder LLC and PATHbinder™, please visit LIFEbinder.net, and sign up to receive updates, or find us on Facebook and Twitter.
Missouri Foundation for Health is a resource for the region, working with communities and nonprofits to generate and accelerate positive changes in health. To learn more about the Missouri Foundation for Health and its initiatives, visit mffh.org.