The main challenges that people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), including those with Asperger’s syndrome (AS) have, are in the field of communication and social relations. These difficulties make them inferior to taking part in society. Our main goal is to help and support persons with AS to be more included in society through coaching and adjusting the environment, considering their needs. We want to help empower the target group and encourage their independence in daily life and social
Activities will take place in Ljubljana, but will be provided for people from all over Slovenia.
Regardless of the location, people with AS have very few possibilities for social engagement, because the society we are facing does not adapt to their needs. Because of their communication and sensory issues, the urban environment is very often even more challenging for them compared to small cities or villages. Firstly, we are trying to empower this group of people through coaching, where they will actively participate in saving their problems with professional guidance. Secondly, we will try to adjust public spaces, such as grocery stores, to be more suitable for them. With our main activities we are trying to influence the independence and quality of life of adults with AS.
Despite their normal cognitive abilities, adults with AS aren’t as fully included in society as they should be, especially in terms of their good cognitive skills. It has been shown that they are prone to social isolation and lack of independence in everyday life. We are trying to address these problems and help them develop skills for more active citizenship. Our help and support will be provided through coaching them in finding and keeping jobs, solving problems with public administration, finding friends and partners, being more conscious as citizens etc. We are also planning activities to adjust public spaces, like grocery stores, so they’d become more friendly for their needs. With those actions we wish to improve the conditions for increasing active citizenship of adults with AS.
Our target group are adults with Asperger's syndrome. It’s a developmental disorder that includes significant difficulties in social interaction and communication, along with repetitive patterns in behavior and restricted interests. Because of their difficulties on one side and environment that is not suitable for them on the other, adults with AS very often experience social exclusion, isolation and dependence on other people, like their parents. We are planning to support them to be more efficient in their everyday living and be more independent of others.
1st step: Together with people with AS identify their needs regarding social inclusion and human and civic rights.
2nd step: Offering support and empowerment.
3rd step: Providing coaching, that has been proved as an effective method in working with people with AS, along with other group activities.
4th step: Identifying environmental challenges that prevent their participation in public spaces.
5th step: Implementation of environment adjustments considering their needs.
With the help of our project, in a year from now a group of people with AS would have a better quality of life. They would get the professional support they need, free of charge, which would help them actualize their civic and human rights. Part of the public spaces would be adjusted and enable more pleasant and independent participation. Consequently, the group of people with AS would be more included in society. We would also like to set an example for accommodating more public places and reach a wider group of people.
As stated in the Charter of rights for people with autism, accepted by European parliament (formed by Autism-Europe), people with ASD have the same rights as other Europeans. That includes the right to independent living, to take part in decision-making and to have access to proper help and support services. But because of their difficulties in social domain they cannot express and realize their rights, which often results in marginalization. Real democracy means inclusion for everybody, regardless of the health condition. Persons with AS have many strengths that could be very beneficial for the whole society, but they need help and special strategies to be more active to express them. Through our project this group of people will be empowered as independent and more active citizens.
The mission of our organization is comprehensive care for people with autism and their families. We strive to develop diagnostic processes, therapeutic approaches and specific educational and social programs to fulfill the needs of people with autism and their families. There has been a lot of work done for children with ASD and their families in Slovenia in the last 15 years, but almost nothing for adults with ASD. So our next step is to help and support adults. Unfortunately our government and the public health insurance do not cover any services for this group of people, so we are looking for other possibilities to get a budget to help them. This grant is a great opportunity to improve the quality of life of people with AS and helping them to be more active citizens.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Personnel costs: 30.000 €
Office expenses: 7.500 €
Travel and accommodation costs: 7.500 €
Public relations, including website: 5.000 €
The problems we identified are also present in other parts of Europe. Considering that Civic Europe connects people from a big part of Europe, we hope to become a part of a network where we could exchange our knowledge and experience in order to increase our civic infrastructure and literacy.