What is Aurum?
Aurum is a new service that has been set up to provide support for autistic people and their families in Malvern and the surrounding area. The service is led by autistic people and specialist autism professionals and its primary focus is on provision of support for autistic women and girls.
As a new service, it has been important for us to establish what local support is already in place and to identify areas where further support for autistic women and girls is necessary. Aurum staff have recently consulted both group members and parents with regards to service development. This feedback highlighted four key areas of support that are currently needed:
- Opportunities to engage in social, recreational and discussion-based groups
- Opportunities to receive and/or provide support to other group members through peer mentoring
- Specialist individual support for autistic people
- Specialist individual and group support for parents/carers of autistic people.
Our website is: www.aurumsupport.co.uk
Why is this project important?
Autistic women and girls have typically been overlooked in terms of provision of specialist support as most support is still, unfortunately, developed based on the strengths and needs of males. This support is, therefore, inappropriate for many autistic women and girls, and most feel unable to engage. This often results in autistic women and girls going without support for prolonged periods, which results in isolation, increased anxiety and failure to achieve their personal, academic, and social potential. Aurum’s initial focus is to set up a package of both group and individual support for autistic women and girls. A peer mentoring network is also being developed in order to support autistic women and girls to build a beneficial network of support outside of our services, thus enhancing their self-esteem, confidence and resilience.
What are the aims of this project?
The aim of this project is to reduce social isolation for autistic women and girls. However, there are numerous, additional, positive outcomes associated with the project. These include enhanced understanding of autism and of their needs as autistic people, improved well-being, enhanced confidence and self-esteem, improved coping skills, and increased engagement in the broader community.
What do autistic group members say about Aurum?
"Attending Aurum has allowed me to attend a group with like minded people. Before attending this group I felt as if I didn’t fit in with society and that there wasn’t a group or activities for people like me who are considered ‘high functioning’. Attending this group allows me to share my own experiences as well as hearing and potentially offering personal advice based on what I find helpful to others who are on the spectrum. This also allows me to have 1-1 support with someone who has expert knowledge as well as experience as to the difficulties."
(female group member, age 21)
"The groups have helped me become more confident and make new friends. Without the groups I would have been lonely."
(female group member, age 23)
What do parent group members say about Aurum?
"Aurum is an amazing organisation run by passionate people, who understand our children. Their expertise, experience and patience is key to their success. My daughter loves attending the groups and feels comfortable and secure there. It has been invaluable in developing friendships, which is always difficult for our children. I am grateful and feel blessed that groups like this exist in my local area."
(parent of a 17 year old group member)
"The groups have provided my daughter a safe, non-judgemental space to explore friendship dynamics and social relationships. This has increased her confidence when interacting with others. The friendships she has made within the groups have expanded to provide her with a peer support network outside of the groups. As a parent one of my biggest worries for my daughter has been loneliness and isolation, seeing her making arrangements with peers, independent of me, is wonderful. I am so proud of her and so grateful to the groups and Natalie's support."
(parent of a 23 year old group member)