National Friendship Day includes those with autism too

New app provides social access

The key to happiness? No one knows for sure, but finding yourself some good friends is a great place to start. Plenty of scientific studies (and Mister Rogers episodes) back this up, but you don’t need an advanced degree (or a red sweater) to figure it out.

You just need to be human.

We’re getting set to celebrate National Friendship Day on the first Sunday in August. While no match for Valentine’s Day on the hearts and roses scale, it’s probably more important. Romantic love is often fleeting, and guess who’s there to get you through the dark times?

Hiki, the Hawaiian word for “able,” helps autistic people to find each other and socialize.

Making new friends is a skill that comes easier to some people than others. Social and dating apps can help, but they don’t work for everyone. Consider men and women with autism — who may have a particularly difficult time making connections. Now there’s a new app available.

Hiki is a new social app aimed at autistic women and men. (Courtesy Hiki)

Hiki (pronounced “hee-KEY”), which launched this summer, has emerged as the first-ever dating and friendship app specifically designed for those on the spectrum.

“There are myriad dating and social platforms for nearly every identifiable group, but nothing for the large, often overlooked autistic community,” says founder Jamil Karriem. “I created Hiki because I believe that friendship, love, and community are the essence of happiness. Everyone deserves access to platforms that can help build meaningful relationships.” 

‘Safe space’

Hiki, the Hawaiian word for “able,” helps autistic people to find each other and socialize. Karriem began working on the app after speaking with his cousin who has autism. Among other things, he learned that physical spaces like bars and restaurants can pose tough challenges for those sensitive to environmental stimulation. The app provides a safe space for people to celebrate commonality. It’s a stigma-free zone.

While online dating has become an estimated $12 billion business, none of the current apps catered to this group. This, despite the fact that 70 million people worldwide live with autism and one in 59 U.S. children are born with it.

Early Hiki users responded will to the app’s beta version in June. Karriem believes the enthusiasm will continue to grow. “Our mission is only beginning, and we look forward to effecting positive change and bringing happiness to millions of people around the world.”