App helps people with special needs make friends

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FILE – In this Aug. 11, 2014 file photo, State Sen. Anthony Canella, R-Ceres, uses his smartphone at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. California Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015 signed into law the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act, a law which requires police to get a court order before they can search

(CNN) — A new web app is making it easier for people with special needs to make a new connection and find a friend in their city.

MAF, or Making Authentic Friendships, was developed by a woman whose brother was diagnosed with ADHD and autism at a young age.

She saw her brother’s struggle at making friends and decided to do something about it, not just for him but for anyone on the spectrum.

The app’s focus is on getting a conversation started. It asks users for their name, age, location and diagnosis. The app then matches people based off the diagnoses. It works like a game.

The more the user chats with friends, the more coins they earn. The coins can then be used to buy new clothes for their avatar.

MAF first launched in August of 2019 and already has users in 35 states and 12 countries.

So far the app has worked to get people talking. The next step is to get meetups between users.

The app developers are working on safety features to make it safe.

They also hope family and friends of those with special needs will use it to build a stronger and helpful community to start new conversations.

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