DASH Social Groups update
DASH is still running 5 social groups to help adults with Aspergers to maintain social contact and develop social skills, in sympathetic and supportive environments.
The groups are facilitated by experienced support workers, who develop and run activities in consultation with the group members. When we started the groups, there was a weight of evidence that identified age and gender specific groups as most appropriate to people with Aspergers. We have managed our groups in this way but some of the recent developments of age/gender mixed has made us think hard about how we work in the future, as you will see below.
The Monday night club for young people aged 18-25 goes from strength to strength with around 30 regular members attending the Oasis every Monday evening to chat, meet friends, shoot a game of pool and play badminton. The group is particularly helpful in supporting those young people who are very shy and nervous of group activity but want to relax in an undemanding environment, Many members start by sitting quietly at the fringes, absorbing the atmosphere but are soon joining in and chatting to other members. Due to the size of the group, we have 4 support workers facilitating the activities.
Recent feedback suggests the group is well-received by parents, as well as young members. One parent described the group as a ‘lifeline’, as there were simply no other suitable resources for her son.
The allotment membership also continues to grow. A group of about 20 people attend each Wednesday afternoon and the environment also easily attracts interest from volunteers who want to help facilitate the varied activities. The combination of fresh air, physical activity and tangible outcomes really appeals to many people with Aspergers, the practical world of nature seems much less confusing than the ephemeral world of people with its confusing social rules. Recently, the men’s group (aged 25 and over) attended the allotment, during their fortnightly get-together. The dynamics worked really well and we are thinking of developing more opportunities for this kind of age/gender mix. Many members are now developing friendships and organising social events outside of the groups – this is exactly what we are aiming for; to give people the confidence and belief so they can run their lives more independently.
One of our young women from the Wednesday evening group has produced our Winter newsletter and wants to develop her ideas with other members of the group. The growth in confidence of this group is truly amazing; some of these young women were too shy to even enter the activity room when they first came but now they are influencing the choice of activity and engaging in social contact outside the group.