Story: Asperger’s Heroes
David Derbyshire’s late diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome in his 50s led him from a career as a lecturer to coaching and mentoring autistic adults, with Asperger’s Heroes becoming a Community Interest Company in 2018 (https://www.aspergers-heroes.com/).
David, as for many people who weren’t formally required to shield, has been very cautious during lockdown; his 1:1 coaching, and group work, has been online only for the past year. He’s become very aware, from his own experiences as well as those shared with him by others, of the particular challenges for the autistic community during the pandemic.
Sponsorship from Community Catalysts’ Valuable and Vulnerable project means that David was able to develop a free course of four online workshops attended by seven autistic adults who have been formally and informally shielding.
The workshops ran for 90 minutes during the daytime every Tuesday in April 2021 and explored how life is for people now in the light of the last year; what their hopes and concerns are for the next few months as lockdown eases – and what their dreams and aspirations are for the future beyond that.
The workshops discussed bridging the gap between where people were and where they would like to be in the future. The participants were beginning to venture out and meet people as restrictions eased and to serve others in their communities. For example, one was taking steps to run their own group supporting other autistic adults like themselves and another was volunteering to drive people to appointments.
Karen was one of the participants and described the workshops like this: “A very well thought out and designed series of presentations and discussions which progressively develop the themes of value and vulnerability and are supported with practical activities that are clear, focused and build up as they progress through the sessions.”
Others commented, “I found bouncing ideas off other members of the group really helpful”, “Identifying strengths, that I would not have thought about, has enabled me to be more positive about myself” and “Thinking things through has helped me understand myself better”.