We are creating a resource for everybody connected to the Autistic Community

Whether on the Autistic Spectrum, having it as part of their family or social life, coming across it in a professional capacity or just occasionally needing to know more about it…Everybody values helpful insights and guides.

But there is no one ‘right’ insight or opinion.

That’s why we search out and welcome informed contributions from all sources. There will be something for everybody to relate to and value precisely because we will be encouraging everybody to contribute.

Ambitious plans for website

We are building a website with:

  • Detailed guidance and useful insights for everybody
  • Practical instructions for specific situations
  • An ethos of sharing and inviting everybody to contribute
  • Descriptive content that can show many many people share similar experiences
  • Modern content style geared to modern needs.

How people like to consume

The days of purely text-based information are long gone, and whilst some subjects do lend themselves to written explanations, we aim to engage our audience with:

  • Well-written copy that is friendly to all devices: Smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops
  • The full variety of modern multi media: videos, interactive elearning, graphics, presentations…
  • Downloadable material for consumption offline as relevant.

How long are we talking about

Part of our ethos is that the site and web presence is being created by people on the Autistic Spectrum, learning while doing. Of course we welcome content from all sources but the web work is ours.

So our initial goal is to have this web resource completed within three years, though it will continue to evolve and grow after that.

The Autism Community and eLearning

Many of us from all walks of life just do not get on well with text-based information especially in large amounts. At the same time text-based information exchange has massive limitations: Graphics, video and audio can be much effective and attractive in conveying information depending on context.

So rather than build a site with text-heavy advice and information we are investing in eLearning to deliver exactly what people enjoy and want.

eLearning is far more exciting than simply learning on a computer. Inside an eLearning module we can offer:

  • Interactivity: No more treating the reader like a passive receptacle, but inning them to take part in the information exchange
  • ‘Gamification’: Creating a game-like atmosphere.
  • Fuzziness: Offering various options and decision paths - just like real life.
  • Compelling content: Graphics, video, text and audio and encased in a storyline or a real-life scenario that they can relate to

No one has done this before for the Autism Community. It is a well tested method, popular and absorbing, that people from all walks of life delight in.

What we have done so far

We have already invested in software and training in order to produce the modules and videos that will be the backbone of our eLearning modules.

Some examples of our video work can be found on this site and on youtube.

We plan on getting our first elearning modules up by the end of January 2016

How can we benefit the Autism Community through elearning?

 

  • For folks on the Autistic Spectrum
  • Information about rights and dealing with life
  • Health and protection for the vulnerable
  • Ways to understand how Autistic people might think and feel
  • Employment issues
  • For health workers
  • Dos, don’ts and maybes when with an Autistic person
  • What communication styles to expect from Autistic individuals, and what styles work well
  • For companies
  • What do ‘reasonable adjustments’ involve when employing a person on the Autistic Spectrum
  • Issues and benefits around employing Autistic individuals
  • For educators
  • Various approaches to teaching Autistic individuals
  • How to approach pastoral care for Autistic individuals
  • For the emergency services
  • Scenarios involving individuals on the Autistic Spectrum
  • How to change communication styles so there is a positive outcome for everybody

How we got into this

Devon & Cornwall Police originally asked us to create some eLearning modules for ‘Awareness Raising’ as part of the Devon Autism Alert Card Scheme. These modules were going to be private to the police and the progress of each officer was going to be trackable, with detailed reports being sent to the relevant police administrators.

We were very excited to work with the police and also wanted to use eLearning for our community. We invested in training, software and practise.

Unfortunately savage budget cuts loomed over the police force and they had to reconsider how they apportioned study time to their serving officers whilst keeping a quality policing service going. Understandably, policing Devon & Cornwall took precedence.

But we are still a great supporter of eLearning and we still intend to create some for the police as well as the Autism Community. The only difference from the original plan is that we will not track people’s progress through the modules.

Aspergers, Work and the Autistic Spectrum

Like everybody else individuals on the Autistic Spectrum want work that they value and that values them. Respect and shared activity ticks a lot of boxes.

But about 85% of the Autistic Community is unemployed, and about 79% of those who are unemployed are in a position to find work. That’s a lot of people who want to work.

Work is not just about finding a meaningful, purposeful activity but it also alleviates a wide range of problems that can come with Autism and unemployment: stress, depression, isolation…..

But it is important to get the match right. A lot of mainstream people can do a job they don’t particular like as a stepping stone to better things or as a necessity. Autistic folks cannot because it’s not a question of liking or not liking; Many mainstream work habits are deeply distressing. Much more care is needed in creating or finding work for people on the Spectrum.

Just as importantly, each individual has their own specific set of Autistic challenges, whether Aspergers Syndrome, High Functioning Autism, Kanners Autism... and this makes it even more essential to find and support the work they want.

How we are creating work for the Autistic Community

 

We are making progress in the following areas:

  • Creating work with Dimensions For Living
  • Helping individuals develop work related skills
  • Exploring the possibility of winning contracts for our members to complete
  • Supporting working in outside institutions

Creating work with Dimensions For Living

Dimensions For Living is:

  • Encouraging individuals to participate in the whole area of its web presence creation: Website, social media, analytics, SEO, web copy writing….
  • Developing video shooting and editing skills amongst its members
  • Inviting members to contribute to the elearning modules creation, from the planning and design to the software build

To do this well, we have already invested in trainings in

  • Shooting and editing videos on iPads
  • Adobe Captivate 8 for eLearning
  • Joomla online training for the website
  • CiviCRM for the Customer Relationship Management
  • Plus steady development of the other needed skills

Helping Autistic individuals develop work related skills

Many people on the Spectrum are highly skilled in specific areas and yet other areas of life are a complete mystery to them. At the same time skills can atrophy after years out of work, and people might need to get into new habits.

Professional attitudes, result-driven thinking, cooperation, deep focus, perceptual positions…all these and more we bring to the fore in our work with individuals on the Spectrum.

We are building our own working culture. We’ve started by building this web site and our web presence. We’ve learnt (and are learning) how to do that, and even more importantly, we are creating our own methods of cooperating and working together.

Winning contracts for our members to complete

Ultimately, we aim to create an agency for work so we can supply gainful paid employment for those marginalised by the mainstream.

We envisage acting as a clearing house to introduce Autistic individuals to interested companies with all the ongoing support that that might entail.


Always with the understanding that people on the Autistic Spectrum do not want work, they want work that has value to them….just like everybody else.

Supporting work in outside institutions.

Employers are required to make reasonable adjustments with Autistic employees, and the same employees often need personal support.
We aim to be give input to all so everybody wins.

Employers, in out experience, have no idea of the wealth of expertise, creativity and talent that is crying out to be employed in the Autistic Community.

Changing lives

People naturally develop various purposes in different parts of their lives, often interconnected. Purposes for working. Raising children, developing a career, making money, growing relationships….

A lot of these areas of life are blocked or very very difficult of Autistic individuals.

Helping them gain work is a huge step forward.

Come and join us to make a friendlier society.

The Devon Autism Alert Card

We were commissioned in June 2015 by Devon County Council and Plymouth City Council to create, establish infrastructure, market and distribute & support the Devon Autism Alert Card scheme. We also worked with the Devon & Cornwall Police to help start raising awareness of Autism throughout Devon through this scheme.

Creation

We are designing (or commissioning the designs) all the material:

  • The credit card sized plastic Autism Alert Card
  • Full and easy read leaflets
  • Posters, both A4 and A3
  • A seven page website section with full informative content
  • An online application form
  • A paper application form
  • An information pack

Work is in progress. Official launch date is November 20th.

Establish infrastructure

Devon County Council and Plymouth Health have channelled funding to us, and this can only be used for capital investment. So, for example, we cannot buy marketing materials with the fundings. We can however invest in equipment to produce the materials ourselves.

So we have bought all the necessary machinery and software that will allow us to support this project….and are learning to use it all together.

Infrastructure also covers systems and we are developing well working systems so we can deliver what we promise… developing being the operative word!

Marketing

We are marketing the card around Devon with care and in detail. Many individuals on the Autistic Spectrum are by their very nature difficult to reach and cautious about giving their trust. They can be hard to reach and need to see information a few times before coming to a decision.

These individuals are often the ones who will benefit the most from a card.

We are also including all connected to the Autistic Community in our marketing as the Autism Alert card is for them as well.

We think the most effective methods of reaching out to potential card holders and their community are:

  • Web site, web presence, social media, SEO, online videos and multimedia
  • Leaflets and posters displayed in surgeries, libraries, play areas, schools….
  • Direct contact with professionals who come across Autistic individuals in their work
  • Contacting various agencies, groups and organisations who have an interest in the Autistic Community in any way and giving them the information and meeting up if they wish.
  • Organising articles in local media…newspapers,magazines, websites, blogs, parish magazines, church newsletters are just a few possibilities

Distribution and support

Efficient distribution is just the start of our relationships with cardholders and anybody who might be connected with them. We also offer ongoing support both on ways to use the card and general.

Once a cardholder and/or others connected with Autism have entered the scheme, they have found a potential support to trust and we need to respect that.
So we are building an efficient Client Relationship Manager database (fully secure) that will allow us to check that we do keep in touch, send newsletters and ask how people are progressing.

Support us

The ongoing costs are borne by Dimensions for Living as the initial funding was for capital investment only.

If fell you can donate for this and our other services, however much you might be able to afford, then here is the Dimensions for Living donation page.

And thanks for taking an interest - that’s valuable too.