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Lamarque Polvado: Tell me about the beginning of Autism Spot. How did you
come to this idea? Why did you do it?
Kent Potter: My son, Sam, was diagnosed with some developmental delays and
some sensory processing issues when he was very young. He was born premature
so we were fortunate to have a developmental doctor by our side each and every
month as we went in for appointments. He got the official diagnosis through the
school district when he was almost four, but it was closer to the age of two when
our developmental pediatrician said, "I am seeing signs of concern." She told us
then in very black and white terms that if we did not get Sam early intervention
then there could be a very different outcome for him which was devastating to
hear. So we got busy finding the services that Sam would need. At the time I was
in the technology business and my wife was in early childhood education and
we were amazed at the spectrum of options out there. We had a lot of questions
about different modalities of therapy and which therapist would be best for us to
work with etc.
Years later after we had spent a considerable amount of money receiving therapies
and services and seeing some success we saw that it was the networking among
parents and the information that was exchanged between them that was critical.
At that time I had the opportunity to leave corporate America and start a new
venture and then shortly after that started a second new venture. So the entrepreneurial
engine in me was really churning and I felt like I could finally combine
my experience in technology and my passion for video and film, which is what I
studied in college, to a project that would impact the autism community. So the
idea of Autismspot was born. We also knew this would only be the beginning so
we created Project LD which stands for Project Learning Different. I was
diagnosed with dyslexia in my college years and once someone showed me how
to learn a different way the doors just flew wide open, which ironically allowed
me to graduate college early. It was life changing. We launched Project LD in
September 2007 with our first website Autismspot.com. My partner and good
friend who also has learning differences knew that we could work together and
apply our own experiences to the framework of Autismspot. Our mission is to
inform, educate, and Inspire. Everything that we do focuses on those three functions.
LP: When someone comes to Autismspot what is it that you want the user to take
away from his/her experience?
KP: When someone comes to our site they are able to interact immediately with
the video of the day, see the latest news stories that have to do with Autism, go
to myspot to blog about their life and to interact with others who are telling their
personal story or to dive deeper into our video library to access information that
may be pertinent to them.
LP: So how many videos are on Autismspot?
KP: Good question. We have a little over 600 videos and are well on our way to
over 1000 if I include what is in post production right now. I often get asked how
much raw footage do we have and literally we have thousands of hours of video
that we have collected from our national and global travels. Autismspot has
viewers in over 120 countries worldwide.
LP: What have you taken away from this Autismspot experience after talking to
countless families and the professionals literally from all over the world?
KP: Hope. In one single word I could say that the autism community is about
hope, and not about fear. When I speak to audiences at conferences or parent
groups, there is always a theme of hope that I believe is directly related to
free access of information and to a willingness of other individuals to speak
up and share what they have learned along the way. It has been and is
Project LD...Revolutionizing the way digital media is used to connect and educate
people around the world...