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Aspire

M AT T E R S

Aspire is Autism West Midlands’ Employment and Development service specifically for adults with Asperger Syndrome or High Functioning Autism. Each quarter we will be bringing you a newsletter packed with information about who we are, what we do, good news stories, upcoming projects and much more!

Issue 01 • Spring 2013


News

The Skills Show In November 2012 Aspire took several people who are on our employment programmes along to the Skills Show at the NEC. This was a chance for people to find out about different types of careers and in some cases actually try them out! It was a great day out and something we will look to repeat as other events come up.

Christmas Celebrations Aspire arranged celebrations for all of our service users who were on programmes in December and those who had accessed the service over the past year. As well as meals out we also held a Christmas party at the Nautical Club in Birmingham centre. We had a DJ and a buffet and it was a great success! We especially enjoyed seeing people dancing the Macarena and Gangnam style and we are already looking forward to next year’s party!

Julia and Kristian engagement Julia and Kristian who met whilst at our evening support group in Erdington have announced the fantastic news that they are engaged to be married! They have set the date of 2018 for as this will also be the year that as Kristian will turn 30 and Julia will be 40! We are really pleased and excited for them and we hope they have lots of fun planning their big day!

Martineau Garden Aspire undertook a visit to Martineau gardens with some of our personal development service users (see the Options programme for more information) involved in physical activities as well as learning more about what it would be like to be a volunteer there. They got involved in laying new bark chip paths and preparing bulbs for sale. Everyone


left with a sense of achievement and a realisation that volunteering could be a positive and fun activity to get involved with.

...the Options Programme

Spotlight On...

Each quarter we will write a more in-depth spotlight on one of our projects to give you a better understanding of it. The Options programme is funded by Birmingham City Council to support people who are struggling to know what to do with their future. The programme offers 6 months of support to learn more about yourself, develop future goals and learn practical ways of managing your autism.

We use a mixture of one to one and group sessions to help you on your journey. We will help you set an action plan of what goals you want to achieve and develop a profile about you as a person which will help you explain your Asperger Syndrome to people that you meet. We cover lots of different topics over the duration of your course and we like to include practical activities wherever we can. Topics during the programme will be: - Planning for change - Volunteering - Social skills - Personal relationships - Employment - Confidence building - Team work - Health and wellbeing - Understanding autism - Managing anger and anxiety - Personal safety - First aid


Towards the end of your course we will do some more fun and social activities. Some of which in the past have included: Safeside – an interactive safety learning experience Fitness activities Rock climbing Bowling Meals out Laser quest Outdoor adventure day

Case Study: Davey Davey signed up to the Options Programme as he wanted to learn time management and organisational skills in order to start looking for a job. During his time on the programme he has received travel training to enable him to attend meetings independently and sessions on topics such as ASD awareness, communication and positive thinking. As a result of the support, his social confidence has improved, and he has signed up to ASpire’s Adult Support Groups. As a side effect of independent travel, his planning, time management and self-management have improved, and he is now beginning the Fairbridge Programme with the Prince’s Trust. If you are interested in finding out more about the Options programme please visit the AWM website or contact Aspire on 0121 450 7582 or aspire@autismwestmidlands.org.uk

Top Tips

...Making friends & improving relationships Increase your social activity to meet more or new people by joining a club, group or volunteering. Aspire runs some support groups specifically for people with Asperger Syndrome.

If you are at College or University consider joining some of the many groups or societies available to meet people with similar interests.


Make an effort to initiate conversations with people around you on your course, at work or at voluntary placement. Show interest in finding out about the other person. Ask about what the other person likes (for example music, TV shows, films) and have a conversation about that. Try not to be too quiet or dominate a conversation too much. It should be around a 50/50 split when two people are talking. If you have known someone a while and you have a shared interest you can suggest spending some time together to enjoy that interest.

Agony Aunt

Dear Aspire, I’ve been applying for jobs in a Warehouse and I’ve been asked to go for an interview for one. I haven’t disclosed my Asperger Syndrome to them. Is this a problem? Thanks, David

Hi David When and how to disclose your Asperger Syndrome depends on how you applied for the vacancy. Most application forms for vacancies have a section which asks if you have a disability (usually with a Yes / No tick box) and whether you would require any adjustments to be made during an interview. Under the Equality Act 2010 employers should only ask these questions and not ask for any further information about any disabilities at this stage (e.g. what your disability is, how it affects you etc.). Most application forms also have a section where you sign to declare that everything you have written is true. If you ticked no and signed the form to say it is true then your employer may not be very happy if you then disclose it at a later stage and you may affect your legal rights as an employee with a disability. The best thing to do at this stage would be to write a letter to the employer to explain that you didn’t tick the correct box but would like to disclose to them now and make any interview adjustment requests you may have. Interview adjustment requests could be lots of things such as: having more time to think about answers to questions, taking notes in with you, having someone come with you for moral support, making sure they ask questions clearly etc. You may also want to explain any other information which would be useful to them such as you might have such as difficulty making direct eye contact or you will have heightened anxiety during the interview.


If you applied via CV then when you disclose is more of a personal preference. Some people like to disclose right from the beginning but other may choose not to at all (remember again that this may impact on your rights as a disabled employee). We think the best time to disclose is prior to an interview and the best way to do it is to write a letter or e-mail to give the employer time to process the information. Remember to keep it positive and explain that you feel that your Asperger Syndrome won’t affect your ability to do the tasks involved and there is support, advice and further information available from Autism West Midlands. Good luck with the interview and we hope you get the job!

Please submit your questions for our agony aunt and suggestions for out “top tips” topics to aspire@autismwestmidlands.org.uk

Meet the team

Joanne Gumbrell Aspire Manager All programmes

Lynn Marshall

Service Coodinator All programmes

Elaine Forster

Employment Supporter Work Choice, Access to Work, Support Groups

Jim Lowe

Employment Supporter Work Choice, Access to Work, Support Groups

Emma Sainsbury

Personal Development Mentor Options, Access to Work, Support Groups

Imran Ali

Personal Development Mentor Options, Access to Work, Support Groups


Our Projects

We often run several different projects at the same time. This is because funding to run a project can come from many different sources. This is good as it means we get to help lots of people in different ways but can make it confusing when knowing what project might be best for you. Below is a handy guide to what we do. For more information about any of our projects or to sign up contact the Aspire team on 0121 450 7582 or via Aspire@ autismwestmidlands.org.uk

Work Choice – for ages 18 +, living in Birmingham, Solihull or Black Country. Approx. 6 months support, minimum 8 hour per week commitment. Employment programme to move people in paid jobs of 16 hrs per week or more. Dependant on referral from Jobcentre. Delivered at AWM Head Office.

Support Groups – for ages 18 +, living in Birmingham Solihull or Sandwell. One weekday evening group meeting per month, discussion from 6pm - 7.30pm followed by a meal at local pub 7.30pm - 8.30pm. Self referral. Delivered at: B-ham groups - AWM Head Office or Erdington Library, Solihull group – Solihull Methodist Church, Sandwell group – Lodge Road Community Centre

Access to Work – for ages 16+, living in central West Midlands (outer West Midlands areas can be discussed). Ongoing support as required. Dependant on receipt of being able funding from DWP. For people who are in employment but need some support to help deal with issues. Self referral. Delivered at AWM Head Office or at place of employment or local public area.

Options – for ages 18 +, living in Birmingham. 6 months support, ½ to 1 day per week. Personal Development programme to develop skills, confidence and social ability through group sessions and one to ones. Self referral. Delivered at AWM Head Office.

Specialist Interventions – for participants of Work Choice or Work Programme through other training providers (not AWM) who would benefit from ASD specific input or support. Individual or ongoing pieces of work delivered upon request from Work Choice and Work Programme providers. Delivered at AWM Head Office or other training provider site.

Student Support – for Higher Education students only, studying in central West Midlands (outer West Midlands areas can be discussed). Ongoing support as required throughout course. Dependant on receipt of Disabled Student Allowance. Self referral. Delivered at AWM Head Office or at place of employment or local public area.


About Autism West Midlands There are more than half a million people in the UK living with autism, an invisible, misunderstood and lonely disability. 60,000 live in the West Midlands. We are the leading charity in the West Midlands for people affected by autism. We exist to enable all people with autism and those who love and care for them to lead fulfilling and rewarding lives. Our passionate, expert staff and volunteers work across all age groups and abilities, providing direct support to people affected by autism.

About Aspire Aspire is a specialist advice service to help people with Asperger syndrome into employment. We have more than 10 years experience working with Job Centres, employers and people with Asperger syndrome. We adopt a person centred approach, embrace special interests and adapt to needs. We have supported people in work goals that have included everything from Administration to Zoo Keeping!

Contact us

Aspire Autism West Midlands Regent Court George Road Edgbaston Birmingham B15 1NU Email: hello@autismwestmidlands.org.uk Telephone: 0121 450 7582 Website: www.autismwestmidlands.org.uk

Find us on Facebook: Search “Autism West Midlands�

Follow us on Twitter: @autismwestmids Our vision is a world where all people on the autism spectrum have the specialist care and support they need to lead fulfilling and rewarding lives.

Registered Charity Number: 517077 Registered Company Number: 1953344 (England and Wales)


January 2013