Joss is 24 years old and attends our social group for young people with Autism. Previous to being known to the charity Joss was a non-attender at school and alternated between living an isolated life in her bedroom not engaging with the outside world and being sectioned in a local psychiatric hospital.
She was misdiagnosed with five different labels was prescribed a regime of antipsychotics which often had debilitating and humiliating side effects. She had been told on several occasions that she needed to live in a residential care setting and never likely to be able to live independently. Joss was finally diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and her care coordinator referred her to our services.
Joss attended the group each week and became relaxed in the company of others she could relate to. She learnt how to interact in a safe group environment which then became the catalysts to her life becoming very positive. She had the confidence to restart her education, she quickly achieved her GCSE and A levels and became a mentor for new people attending the group, helping them to overcome their anxieties about attending and interacting with others. Joss would give talks on behalf of the charity and would tell people that attending the group and being involved with the charity made her feel normal.
“My friends at the group accepted me and most importantly, I began to accept and understand myself and my Autism and worked very hard to develop coping strategies which I have been able to pass on to others like me.”
Stephen is 23 years old. He has been known to our support services since the age of nine. Stephen has a diagnosis of Autism and dyspraxia. Both he and his parents have received support from various aspects of our services over the years including attending our children and family group, the youth group and then adult social group. Stephen had high levels of anxiety as a child which led him to behave in extreme ways which his parents found very challenging. Attending the social groups through time helped Stephen to behave in more positive ways, initially he would see the other children playing together and would try to cause a disruption which led to upsetting the other children. In time and with staff help Stephen began interacting with the other children in a positive way and began to make friends. When Stephen left school he was supported by our employment advisor to find employment, he successfully applied to a local school to be an assistant to the school caretaker where he still works today
“Asperger East Anglia have been the most positive influence in my life and gave me the skills I needed to make friends and be able to find a job’,
Paul S won our recent short story competition (500 words) with this entry.
Clare has worked as journalist but was only diagnosed with ASD in her 50s. Here is an article about her and her daughter’s story from The Eastern Daily Press and below a poetry book she has recently published.
Jon was living with his parents when he was referred to the charity for support by mental health services. He started our work experience programme in the Wood Workshop and was clearly seen as a troubled young man who had aggressive thoughts and talked a lot about using knives and swords to hurt people. An action plan was a produced to help him focus on his skills and work place conduct.
He made an initial start of attending one day per week learning basic woodwork skills with the view to increasing his working time. It was suggested to him that he should design a small wooden sword and was shown the skills needed to carve intricate designs on the handle. Having produced a harmless sword which was sold in our retail shop he quickly started to show an aptitude for woodwork producing a high standard of work. He began contributing to the daily team gathering offering ideas and designs for making wooden puzzles and children’s toys.
His inappropriate behaviour declined within six weeks and he became focused on being helpful and willing to undertake any tasks asked of him. His skills and attention to detail became an asset to the workshop and customers where passing positive comments about the quality and standard of his work placing orders to purchase his designs. He began to take the lead from some of the other young people he was working with engaging in conversations that were more appropriate in content and for his young age.
Jon increased his working time to 3 full days a week completing his 26 week placement having improved his skills and behaviours. He continued as a volunteer when his placement ended and after 8 months of becoming a valued team member he was offered the opportunity of employment with the charity.
The impact of the support and intervention this has had on Jon not only includes his life becoming positively structured it has improved his mental health, secured him employment and he has been supported by the charity to live independently. JG has recently become transgender and has been supported by the charity to become the person he feels he should be.
Matthew became the youngest ever president of The Norfolk Bowls Association in 2019 at the age of 25. His story featured in the Great Yarmouth Mercury.
After having left school with no qualifications I attempted to start five different courses at college but always dropped out early due to not being able to cope with general everyday life or the social side of college. I felt extremely lonely and had no friends. When I met people on courses I didn’t know how to keep in contact outside the classroom or how to break into conversations inside the classroom.
My life changed when I was given the opportunity to do some work experience at Asperger East Anglia’s Workshop during the summer. I met people who I could relate to, and who understood when I just wanted to be quite and get on with my work.
Everyone I met at the Workshop accepted me for who I was and I began to accept and understand myself and my AS. I developed coping strategies to help my anxiety levels with the help of the staff and discovered what I want to with my future. The computer refurbishment skills I learnt really interested me in electronics and I enrolled on an electronics course with the college. I keep in contact with friends I made at the workshop on face book and met up with them at Christmas.