The group aims to raise wider autism awareness, to reduce barriers faced by people with autism and help adults with autism to get into employment by developing their knowledge and skills through technology.
The group has been invited to a 3 day international conference for an oral presentation in Vancouver, Canada from 12-14 November 2015 where they will be talking about everyday barriers faced by people with autism. For years, people with autism have been speaking behind closed doors! Now we have the opportunity to speak for ourselves to an international audience and really make an impact for others with autism. We will highlight some of our own experiences, how technology can help adults with autism to get into employment so that we can be more independent and empowered and have better quality life. It will cost £850 for a return ticket and 4 nights accomodation for each person. We would like you to help us raise £2,550 for 3 people with autism to present their work at this conference.
About the project
The "Speakup for Autism Group" is set-up by a group of 7 adults; all diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC). It is a self-selected advocacy group within the organisation 'Speakup Self Advocacy' (http://www.speakup.org.uk/) based in Rotherham, United Kingdom. The aim of the group is to raise wider autism awareness and to reduce barriers faced by people with autism.
In the process, the group got involved in various research studies as 'co-researchers' that seek to develop ways for people with autism where they not only participate but 'lead' in designing the research and delivering the outcomes. The group is currently involved in a research study that seeks to find out how technology can help adults with autism to develop social and political consciousness (Critical Consciousness) and help them to get into employment. The study aims to break down barriers of inclusion in the social and political process for people with autism (who may not always understand the abstract language) and enable individual and group empowerment.
Through facilitation and guidance, the group members are using an online portfolio called 'PebblePad' to develop a critical knowledge of the condition of autism in the teaching of others about the condition. PebblePad is an online portfolio (e-portfolio) with personal and community learning spaces that can help people with autism to record their skills, abilities and achievements. Action plans, personal and professional activities, meeting records, blogs, thoughts and reflections, personal work experiences and achievements can be used to build a CV. The group currently teaching teachers and pupils of a school for people with autism run by the National Autistic Society about how to engage through PebblePad, which can be accessed through a range of technological devices, e.g. tablets, smart phones, computers and iPad.
Research suggests that people with autism are concrete thinkers and have a different cognitive learning style. Engaging people with autism to use technology to engage others helps to focus on their own strengths as a vehicle for teaching and interaction. Without the technological interface a reliance on social interaction can provoke high levels of anxiety and stress. This could be a vehicle to get into employment for people with autism, who, as researches suggests, have a tendency to better use and learn from visual instructions which are generally provided by technological interventions. There is potential for the e-portfolio to be used to help explore job opportunities with job centres, used as a service transition tool from children to adult services in a way that promotes greater shared exchange and better understanding.
In addition, this group have provided training and teaching about autism for professionals including Police, Health and Social Care, teachers and students in Universities, Doctors and other Health and Social Care professionals. The group is currently pursuing a level 3 QCF 'Education and Training' qualification from City and Guilds which in-turn will help them to develop their own skills and knowledge and to become qualified trainers.
In June 2015, the group sent an abstract about what the group does, its aim and objectives and their future plans to an International Conference to be held in Vancouver, Canada on12-14th November 2015. The theme of the conference is: "Where is the Patient's Voice in Health Professional Education 10 Years On? Please see the link below to find out more about the conference:
The group is delighted as they got selected for an oral presentation and got invited to attend this 3 day conference. The barrier for the group now is to finance the trip to Canada. The group is hoping to send 3 members to the conference so that they can make their voice heard to an international platform and to an international audience. This will cost £2,550 for 3 members of the group to attend the conference and the group is looking for funds/sponsorships from individual, businesses or organisations for the above mentioned amount.
The "Speakup for Autism" group would like to mention here that, the group has presented their work in various local and national conferences and seminars in the last 3 years. These include presenting at:
- The RDaSH (Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber) conference 2013.
- Annual Health Conference in the University of York 2013.
- A European Conference (Design4Health 2013) in 2013 held in Sheffield.
- Seminars in Sheffield Hallam University in 2014.
- Active members in the Lived Experience Network (LEN) and contributor in policy updates around service user and carer engagement strategic framework.
Thank you for taking the time to read our story, we would appreciate your support.