We have compiled a list of questions and answers to help parents and volunteers understand what TATTS is all about and how to participate. If you have other questions, please pose them via email and we'll post responses here so all can benefit.
What are the ages of TATTS participants?
People on the spectrum of all ages can participate in TATTS. Our primary concern is that we understand their interests and abilities to ensure their success. To the extent possible we want to cater to the needs of each participant. Young kids (under the age of 8 or so) typically participate in the flying, field trips, and working with the imagery collected. Older kids and adults with autism are great participants because it gives them an opportunity to be a leader. The typical age group of participants to date has been 10-15 but we've had participants as old as 22.
What does participation look like?
As anyone involved with autism knows, each day can be a new experience. We don't judge. Participation can be as simple as showing up for five minutes and wearing the goggles during flight. Typically, however, it means coming to the events, helping setup, flying, working with the imagery and video we collect, and cleaning up.
Are neuro-typical kids/adults involved as well?
Yes, to an extent. Over the first few years, neuro-typical TATTS members have only been siblings of other TATTS participants. Our primary focus is to work with people on the autism spectrum so we presently don't offer membership to neuro-typical kids that don't have a direct connection to someone on the autism spectrum.
Is there a cost to participate?
For the first 3 summers,
we were able to not charge families to participate in TATTS. This is part due to our original fund raising campaign via KickStarter, cash donations from various parents and interested parties, and a 2015 grant from the Autism Society of South Central Wisconsin. We are committed to offering the program for free. We plan to obtain 501c(3) status in 2016 which will allow us to expand our fund raising activities. We'll see what the future brings!
When are "practices" or "meetings"?
We tend to meet on a handful of Saturdays throughout the summer and fall. That is generally decided collectively with the group that is participating during any given season.
Does my child have to be at every event/activity?
Not at all. We want you to be able to participate as your schedule and child's abilities allow. However, if you commit to participation, we appreciate you doing all you can to be there as we don't want others to miss out if we turn them down due to full registration and then people don't show up.
How involved do I need to be?
This is not the type of organization where you get to drop off you child and come back in 90 minutes. We look for parents to be part of the sessions. That participation may be as simple as facilitating your child's interactions and engagement all the way to helping run a "station" where kids are doing an activity. No sitting on the sidelines in this project.
That drone looks kind of scary. What are you doing about safety?
We spend a good bit of time working on safety issues when it comes to jobs like soldering or flying one of our drones. On flight days will assign jobs to each of the kids and parents (i.e., the "flight crew") so everyone knows what their job is. That being said, we will ask parents to sign a simple waiver form.
How can I volunteer?
We welcome volunteers, especially those with piloting drone skills or those with a background in working with people on the autism spectrum. Reach out via email to us and let us know how you'd like to help out - firstname.lastname@example.org.
What type of volunteer assistance do you need?
We need help both with expanding our safety and operations manuals to ensure we fly safely as well as expanding our curriculum to further address the needs of people on the autism spectrum while still having fun in the field. Of course, we can always benefit from simply having another set of hands around as well to assist in setup and tear down, facilitating the group, informing parents what we are doing, etc.
Do you have other questions? If so, let us know and we'll try to answer them.