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Sunday, 29 September 2013

An update on the progress I am making in Autism Advocacy in my local area


I attended the local Autism/Asperger's Support group about a month ago for the first time as I had finally got around to finding out more about the group. I had talked to the group organiser before hand and he had informed me that other adults with my condition would be there. When I attended however I realised that something more was needed. This group seemed to be pre-occupied only by parents and issues with their school-aged children. Now I definitely think there is a place to have support for the parents however I identified a gap where work was needed to improve the group. This gap was to have some meetings or separate meetings especially for the socialisation of the people affected by Autistic Spectrum Conditions (ASC).

I knew for this to happen I would have to advertise the group specifically for people on the spectrum to come along. I approached the two local newspapers and was interviewed and my story published the week after. (You can read one of the articles here: http://www.centralwesterndaily.com.au/story/1777482/breaking-down-social-barriers/).

The Thursday just passed I held the group meeting. It was exhausting as parts were emotionally charged however I managed to get alot out of the meeting. The time spent on preparing the agenda was well worth it as I had a few questions answered and it kept the conversation fairly on topic. The main question that I asked the individuals with Aspergers at the meeting was "what do you want to get out of attending the group?".

There were multiple elements that the Adults with AS (Asperger’s Syndrome) who attended the meeting identified as important to include in the group. These were:
·      Share their experiences with other people with the same condition
·      Build relationships with each other
·      Learn more about AS
A local park in the beautiful city in which I live :)

It was also mentioned that as AS is only just becoming better known and understood it is important for them to learn more about themselves and learning how to cope with social in social situations.

My next project is to assist running the next group meeting in October  and to organise and run a fundraising event for people with ASC's. The purpose will not only be to raise funds for Autism but also to raise awareness and gain acceptance by the wider community, What I am needing to do now is to assess the needs of my local peers with ASC and determine (with the help and guidance from the group as a whole) to determine where the money will be best spent.  I want to be able to take my idea to a charity that supports people with ASD and make a proposal to where my donated money will go so I do not have to go through the process of creating a new, separate legal entity.

This will be a difficult but very worthwhile event that will keep me busy, among other things, over the next few weeks. If you are interested in keeping up to date with the group go to the page which is here:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Orange-Autistic-Spectrum-Social-Support-Group/1421529814734828

Sunday, 1 September 2013

A draft letter that can be customised for writing to the media on Aspergers Advocacy

There are many ways of engaging the community for the purpose of Advocating Asperger's Syndrome(AS)/High Functioning Autism(HFA) such as starting a social group for people with HFA/AS or fundraising for a charity that is focused on helping people on the spectrum. The following is to give you ideas on how to approach the media and other people so you you come across clear and people understand what you are about.

Introduction paragraph.
This will tell people about the event or group or similar that you are going to be doing.
Something like:
To (name),

I am writing this letter to inform you about a social group that I am setting up for Adults with Asperger's Syndrome (AS) and High Functioning Autism (HFA). I myself have the condition and want to help others and myself with feel socially included and feel less like the odd-one-out.

Include a bit of information on what AS/HFA is

Asperger’s syndrome is a hidden disability. Physically, individuals appear perfectly normal. Their cognitive intelligence is average or higher. Yet they have great difficulty interpreting everyday social cues such as facial expressions or body language. As a result, they often impinge on others. Typically, they stand too close, interrupt conversations and continue to speak whether or not anyone is interested. Unfortunately as not many people know about the condition this causes us to often be ostracised from many people.

Write about the group/event you are hosting:

The group will have its first meeting at (place) (time). Any interested people are welcome to attend.

Thanks for reading (conclusion)

Thank-you for taking the time for reading my correspondence. Please let me know if you have any queries and I hope that you will be able to support my group by advertising it in (name of media).

Yours Sincerely

Benjamin Wilshire

(also dont forget to put your contact details in so they contact you)

I hope you find this post provides a bit of an idea of how to write a letter to Advocate Asperger's and would love you to leave a comment if you have any ideas on this.