To celebrate Autism Awareness week, which took place from 26th March to 2nd April 2018, Share launched a new student group called ‘Spectrum’ for all our students who have a diagnosis of autism/asperger’s syndrome.
Spectrum will meet regularly to design and plan activities, feedback on how well Share is meeting and maintaining autism-friendly standards, and be a part of delivering activities, choosing resources for the training library, and designing appropriate ways to arrange the interior of the building to avoid sensory overload.
At Spectrum's first meeting, the group discussed what autism is, and explored each person's understanding of the term and their own experience of autism.
Spectrum’s first assignment will be to redesign Share’s 'Snug' area, a small room which is currently used as a breakout space, into a chillout retreat for our autistic students to use when they feel overwhelmed and in need of a timeout. During their first meeting, our students explored various colours and expressed how these colours made them feel. In consultation with the Spectrum group, agreed colours will be implemented within the room and the space will be transformed to ensure that senses such as touch, vision, sound, and space are reflected to create a calm environment based on the needs of our autistic students.
Spectrum aims to empower our students, helping them to understand their own needs, while at the same time putting autistic people at the heart of service development. This group is currently facilitated by Share staff, but the eventual aim is for it to become a user-led, empowering our students to advocate their needs to their wider support teams.
The group has also been recruited by Wimbledon Tennis Championships, which is working towards making their museum and tours more autism-friendly, to provide feedback on an online visual story they have created to help autistic visitors prepare for their visit to the Championships. This will help Wimbledon to shape their service accordingly.
To find out more about Share's Spectrum student group and Share's autism accreditation journey, contact Mikayla Mighton, Share's My Life Manager, via email email@example.com.