Starting a social/support group for young adults with AS?

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makemom
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18 Aug 2014, 5:33 pm

Questions:
1. Should I consider doing this myself? Am I crazy?
2. What types of activities would be best for young adult groups?
3. What are the pitfalls I should try to avoid if I start a group like this?
4. How do I get started?



DrHouseHasAspergers
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18 Aug 2014, 6:58 pm

1. I think it could be great benefit. If you haven't done so already, you might want to find out how many young adults there are with Asperger's who would be interested in a social group in your area to see if there are enough for a trial run. And your group would probably grow after a while because people would hear about it in time so don't be disheartened if only a few show up for the first meeting.

2. Anywhere typical young adults would go: bookstores, coffee shops, restaurants, etc... Visiting those places will give them the opportunities to practice age appropriate social skills like ordering, being pleasant to the workers, and then small talk with each other. It would also be good to reinforce how to tip properly in eating establishments (assuming you live some place where tipping is expected/socially required) i.e. 10% for rude/somewhat poor service, 15% for average-good service, and 20% for very good service.

3. Don't treat them like kids. They are still young adults, having AS does not change that. Many well-intentioned people make the mistake of underestimating their -for lack of a better word- clients' abilities. Always treat them their age. Like most (if not all) people, we do not respond well to condescension.

4. Begin by seeing how much interest there would be for such a group and find a central place that you can meet before going places together. The group I went to met in a church's youth building. Sometimes, we also had a snack at the church first - the people who organized the group had the ingredients ready and the participants would make it to practice making easy, healthy snacks. Since you will be doing outings and likely providing sustenance for them, there should be a small fee for each meeting. My group's was $5 each time. Also remind them via email or phone the day before to bring extra money for their own spending.
Also, the meeting time and frequency should be considered. My group met once a month on Tuesday evenings. I think it worked well. If you would like to meet more often, twice a month would probably be acceptable. To be safe, I'd suggest a Friday or Saturday evening since they may be socially burnt out from work/school or have other obligations on weekdays. You should also ask prospective participants how often and when they want to/are able to meet regularly. Once you've established a regular meeting time, make up a schedule and send a copy to everyone so there won't be any confusion. If, for some reason, you cannot make a meeting, you should give them as much advance notice as possible that the meeting is cancelled. And put your cell number on the schedule so they can call you if they will not be attending a meeting.


_________________
Diagnosed Asperger's - 2007
Current AQ score: 43
Current PDD score: 105 - moderate
http://www.childbrain.com/pddassess.html

-Socially awkward and special interests don't mean autism.-


AardvarkGoodSwimmer
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19 Aug 2014, 2:37 pm

One thing I really hope parents, teachers, advocates, and support persons to understand is that a young person on the Spectrum may do badly at a job like cart attendant. And the answer is not to go to a still lower job. The answer might be to actually upshift. That for many of us on the Spectrum, the relationship between "easy" and "hard" jobs is actually reversed!

For example, about twenty years ago I worked as a checker at Kroger grocery store. A couple of sackers made fun of my voice. I would politely and privately ask people to stop. Everyone did except for this one idiot. I have a nasal voice which some people stereotype as gay, which I think is miles from any kind of stereotypical "gay" voice. And the people who do this stereotyping and making fun of are obviously small-minded, negative, as well as thoroughly bored and please don't underestimate this last factor. Now, as a political progressive, I'd love to say the main problem was the management. But no, the main problem was the actual co-workers. The managers considered me a problem worker anyway because I asked too many questions. And to the extent they noticed this bullying behavior at all, they tended to blame me.

To contrast this, when I worked at H&R Block, I got reasonably good at the basic tax law, reasonably good at doing things on the computer. At that was the key. For example, to get the H&R Block software to fill out and claim the credit for Child and Dependent Care Expenses (Form 2441) you have to input at two separate areas on the software. This is not fully logical, but that's just the way it is. And I was good at this kind of thing. I always felt my clients were lucky to get me as their preparer, including that I tried to disclose in a medium but still real way the main negatives of the Block bank and loan products. My co-workers occasionally asked me to help and I was respected as a go-to person, and I was brief and respectful both when I could help and when I couldn't. And I felt my co-workers generally reciprocated. It was a world of difference from Kroger and that's the important thing.

Now, the job at Block is 5 weeks, and that's it. It's the early rush season of people who are getting refunds and know they're getting refunds. Now, Block is really more in the business of selling the bank and loan products more than tax preparation, and they wanted you to technically disclose the negatives but not really. Well, someone might lose their entire refund which they had been counting on for purposes of third-party debt collection. Wow, really, yes. I didn't see any way I couldn't disclose this. I still wanted to be brief and respectful because many clients still wanted to take the risk. Now, one year out of four I was fired, in my judgment because I did disclose. But that means three years out of four I wasn't fired, and I'll take those odds.

So another lesson, yes, some established companies are unethical.



AardvarkGoodSwimmer
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20 Aug 2014, 12:01 am

Maybe one or several of the young people could even start a business, knowing full well that the baseline statistic is that 80% of new businesses fail. I mean, what it is, is what it is. Know it, embrace it, live it. Even with substantial things going in your favor, there are substantial luck and timing factors, if for no other reason than potential customers are real people and just as unpredictable as real people, ourselves fully included.

My point being, the group might start off social and evolve in any number of additional directions. Or, it might stay just social, and that's fine, too.



SC_2010
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20 Aug 2014, 2:12 am

Dr. House has some great advice.

It all depends on what you want the purpose to be. What would be the mission statement, if you had one?

Our local young adult social group is on meetup, so that's a good place to try to get more members. They do outings to the mall, comedy club, movies, beach, coffee shops, zoo, and board game nights.