A mom of three, Lizia Santos, had families like hers in mind when she created City Catt, a travel service that connects families with like-minded locals who know how to help them get the most out of their visit.
But she knows it is even harder for families with special needs to travel. So on July 9 she launched a new program, Autism On The Go, that pairs families affected by autism with certified autism Catts who live in the destination and can help them find the best places to accommodate their child’s needs.
“What happens is that, even though there are attractions in the destinations which could be enjoyed by kids with cognitive disorders, there’s barely any info online about it, so the parents feel lost and end up not risking facing the unknown,” she says.
City Catt is currently in 26 states, including Illinois. It works much like Uber.
The app connects a family to a Catt who can be hired for an hourly fee to take them out for three hours to all the great places locals know (typical cost is $60-$65) or can build a customized itinerary through a chat (typical cost is $21.)
Santos’ goal is for everyone to have a great day out as a family no matter what their needs might be.
“One thing I’ve learned all these years is to research and prepare myself ahead for all activities and trips,” says Viviane Gouvea, whose oldest son has autism and 7q11.23 duplication diagnosis. “I strongly believe that City Catt will help many families looking for the same things, by giving us access to qualified people who know everything about the city.”
Santos also says she wanted a way for parents to help out other parents, while also giving parents a way to make money with flexible hours. City Catt is currently recruiting people interested in working as certified autism Catts.