Helping people with Asperger's

Advocacy

An advocate is someone who represents the interests of another person. They may be able to help you in several different ways from helping you to find somewhere to live to helping you look for work or making sure you’re claiming the correct benefits. Advocates are independent of organisations such as your local council or the Job Centre. To find an Advocacy organisation near you that may be able to help try contacting one of the following organisations:

Counselling

Some people with an ASD find it useful to go to counselling to help them to cope with everyday life. Counselling usually involves going to talk to someone at an agreed time and place once a week or as many times as you think is necessary. The sessions can last up to an hour but can also be much shorter than this. The counsellor that you meet will not tell anyone else what you discuss with them, it is confidential.

You can find more information about counsellors on the following website:

www.autism.org.uk/a-z

It may also be worth contacting the British Association for Counselling (BACP). They can provide a list of accredited counsellors who work in your area of the country.

BACP – www.bacp.co.uk

Tel: 0845 443 5252

Employment

England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales all have careers services that can offer information and advice on employment and career     choice. Careers services generally provide information, they cannot find a job for you. If you want to find a job, you can visit your local Jobcentre Plus. They have disability employment advisors (DEAs) who can provide support to people with disabilities, including those with an ASD.

The National Autistic Society offers support to people across the UK who are interested in employment, looking for a job or those who are already in work. Call NAS for more information on 0845 070 4004. There is also an employment service called Prospects in London, Manchester and Glasgow. To find out more visit www.autism.org.uk/prospects. For information on training courses for employment visit www.autism.org.uk/courses and follow the link to ‘Employment courses and events’.

Further and Higher Education

Further Education usually means 6th Form College to study A-Levels, BTECs or NVQ’s and Higher Education usually means University to study a BA degree, a BSC Degree or a Diploma. These institutions have disability support departments with a team of disability officers, learning support assistants/tutors and mentors who can support students. All students with a disability should be able to access support but it is a good idea to contact any Colleges and/or Universities that you are interested in to find out exactly what support they can offer.

Support for students with Disabilities in higher education is funded through the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA). DSA is a grant, not a loan, and therefore doesn’t need to be repaid. You can claim DSA on top of other types of financial support for students such as the student loan, which does have to be repaid once you start earning enough money after you graduate.

Support for students in Further Education is funded by Colleges. You can still claim other benefits such as the Disability Living Allowance while you’re in Further Education.

The organisation ‘Skill’ provides information for students with disabilities at www.skill.org.uk .

Helpful Hints

Below are a few really useful hints for making communication easier for an Aspie:

  1. Use the Aspie's name to get their attention.
  2. Keep your language simple and allow time for their response.
  3. Explain social rules to people with Asperger's Syndrome as clearly as possible.
  4. Provide people with Asperger's Syndrome structure and routine to give predictability. 
  5.  Consider the environment carefully to avoid sensory overload.

Asperger’s Syndrome can mean people develop a particular strength or focused interest. They can become obsessive and potentially negative when levels of anxiety are very high. However, if the individual is understood and well supported, their special interest can be channelled appropriately and bring calm, pleasure and even employment, helping them to lead fulfilling lives. There are some exceptional individuals whose special interest becomes a rare talent like the Artist, Stephen Wiltshire or the Scientist, Temple Grandin.

Lack of understanding causes many of the difficulties associated with Asperger’s Syndrome. Once the condition and its effects are understood, the individual can concentrate on overcoming the negative aspects and make the most of the positive. Qualities like honesty, reliability, determination and dedication are all associated with the condition and many Aspies show talent in Maths, Music, Computing, Science and Technology.

Getting the right type of support, as well the right amount can be vital. Once problems occur, anxiety can take over, issues are exaggerated and become much harder to deal with. Support can be reduced as the individual gains confidence and experience.

Social Groups:

Social Groups are a great way to meet other people with an ASD. They operate all over the UK and can be run by local support groups, organisations like The National Autistic Society (NAS) or by local authorities. To find out if there and social groups in your area, call the Autism Helpline run by NAS on 0845 070 4004 or you can email them at autismhelpline@nas.org.uk

Befriending:

Befriending is a way for people with an ASD to go out and do things with a volunteer. ‘Befrienders’ will usually spend a few hours per week with you do things such as go for lunch or see a film at the cinema.

Befriending services are offered across the UK. The NAS Autism Helpline can tell you more about this. Call them for a chat on 0845 070 4004 or email autismhelpline@nas.org.uk. You can also read a bit more about the NAS Befriending service at ww.autism.org.uk/befriending 

Social Skills Training:

Many people with an ASD say that they would like access to some form of social skills training. Social skills groups usually focus on things that people with an ASD can find difficult, such as having a conversation, identifying and expressing emotions, problem  solving, understanding body language and tone of voice. You may find that you can access social skills training as a result of a social care assessment. A social care assessment is carried out by your local social services department and it considers what needs you have and which services you might benefit from.  Unfortunately, Social Skills training isn’t offered everywhere but you can find out where it is available by contacting the Autism Helpline on 0845 070 4004 or by emailing your question to autismhelpline@nas.org.uk

Therapies and Interventions

There is currently no cure and no specific treatment for ASD. Many people do not seek a cure and prefer to celebrate difference. However, there are many therapies and interventions which can improve the quality of life for someone with an ASD. If you want more information on the various approaches you can visit the link below:

www.autism.org.uk/approaches


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