I would like to acknowledge the wonderful work done by Kathleen, Simon and the lovely people that assist them at the young adult social group on a Friday night.
My daughter, Jessica has been with the group since it’s commencement, and has always indicated that she did not want to stop going.
Jessica can be a little more challenging than the other group members, as she would be classified more in the high functioning autistic range, rather than Asperger, and therefore sometimes things may affect her more than to the others. This has not seemed to deter Kathleen and Simon, as they rise to the challenge to try and assist Jessica as much as they can, and to put into effective strategies that could be of help. They are even looking into giving Jessica more personalised help in the new year, as we try to get her to fit better into a social situation. They also never neglect to let John and myself know when Jessica has done well with socializing, and sometimes send us photos of her doing so. This is a small indication of the dedication and care these two give to our children. You have no idea how wonderful it is, as a parent, to get this sort of encouragement about your child, and it never fails to put tears of joy in my eyes.
This shows us, as parents, that they are willing to help, and put the needs of this “socially Challenged youth” first. Giving them a chance at trying to belong to a group of their own. One in which they feel safe, and not judged by neurotypicals. A group that has allowed many of them to make friendships that go beyond that Friday night gathering, where before there was little hope of having that in the REAL WORLD.
They are learning skills that they can use in day to day situations, and just going to a place, on a Friday night, like a regular teen/adult would, and enjoy a night out, almost like other people their age, is priceless.
You can tell that this group is a success by the way the numbers have grown over the years. This has been what has been missing. The youth are happy, but also, the parents are happy, as they have found a situation where their children can make friends and enjoy a night out. This is something that plays on our minds constantly, as parents, the happiness of our children and helping them gain skills to cope with a future that they can deal with by themselves, when we are no longer there to advocate for them.