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The Missing Pieces (January 2018)
January 2, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
The Missing Pieces began in January 2013 with a core group of 3 people and our counselor. We are the only group of its kind in the Midlands area of South Carolina. Our mission is to provide peer support through monthly meetings to other people on the Autism spectrum and to better educate ourselves and the community-at-large by sharing our personal experiences.
We plan to hold workshops on specific topics such as building social skills, sensory issue recognition and management, self-care (i. e. diet and exercise), stress and anger management, and life skills development (i. e. resume building and job interviewing skills). We will provide education for the community through the use of power-point presentations, personal testimonies and other means as they become available through group brainstorming. These presentations will be targeted at organizations such as schools, law enforcement, businesses and hospitals. We will also develop recreational activities (i. e. movies, outings to zoos and museums, games) designed to contribute to the development of skills such as teamwork and group cooperation.
We will make our group accessible through a facebook page. Individuals may also obtain membership through word-of-mouth advertisement, referrals, published presentations, and public announcements (i. e. social media). The public interface will contain information about upcoming events pertaining to the community-at-large hosted by our group and others (i. e. Autism Speaks, ASAN, NIMH and NAMI), links to support services and contact information for the group, including a telephone number and an email address. The private interface will have members-only access and will host a bulletin-board with discussion topics chosen by individuals. It will have a calendar of events for peer-related activities. It will contain other information pertinent to the group.
Through the use of presentations, personal testimonies, workshops and psycho-educational support groups we will help one another to lead more independent, fulfilling lives. Our presentation and workshop topics will be developed through group brainstorming and will be targeted not only at our peers and their families but also the community-at-large.
We will begin in the Richland/Lexington area and attempt to grow throughout the midlands of South Carolina. In addition we hope to interface with existing groups such as the Charlotte Asperger’s group in NC and actively help to develop new groups in other areas. We will also interface with other support groups (i. e. family members)
- Reaching throughout the midlands of South Carolina
- Growing membership from the three founding members to a goal of over 100.
- Providing a social outlet for people on the spectrum.
- Reducing the number of psychiatric hospitalizations
- Increasing employability.
- Assisting individuals on the spectrum to lead more independent and fulfilling lives.
- Community awareness of the positive aspects of the strengths people on the spectrum have.
- Early recognition and accommodation of people on the spectrum.
- Helping people on the spectrum reach their potential
- Reaching out to public schools for ASD awareness
- Helping adults with ASD to find services such as behavioral therapy, living accommodations, transportation services and life skill development
We will plan activities to include members, their families and the neurotypical community via support groups, workshops and leisure/fun activities.
Names of key staff who will be directly involved in the program:
- Clayton Lawson, Bachelor of Science/Meteorology
- Megan Stewart, Bachelor of Science in Biology/Wildlife Biology
- Linda Rosi, Computer programmer
The Midlands area of South Carolina consists of 8 counties: Calhoun, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland, Saluda, and Sumter, with a total population of approximately 1,000,000 people. The Richland/Lexington area has the greatest number by far, with Richland having approximately 400,000 people and Lexington 275,000. Using a conservative estimate that 1 in 110 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009) people are on the autism spectrum we can approximate 6000 persons in the Richland/Lexington area and 9000 persons in the Midlands area on the autism spectrum.
If we assume that 2/3 of these people are high-functioning we are left with 4000 high-functioning people with autism in the Richland/Lexington area, and approximately 6000 high-functioning persons with autism throughout the Midlands. This is the group we wish to target for peer support.
Measurable outcomes for these persons would include:
- less psychiatric hospitalizations
- better employability
- better mental health through positive peer interaction
- less homelessness caused by an inability to cope with issues such as budget management, bill-paying et al.
- a sense of connectedness with a community of peers
- contribution to the community according to individual strengths
- developing friendships
- promoting a better quality of life through the aforementioned
Measurable outcomes for the community-at-large would include:
- reduction of the misperception that individuals on the spectrum are dangerous
- education on what difficulties a person on the spectrum might be experiencing with things such as communication and sensory issues.
- reduction of bullying in school and work environments
- promoting better integration of neurotypical and neurodiverse individuals
- helping medical personnel to recognize the symptoms persons on the spectrum might exhibit (i.e. selective mutism in stressful situations)
- better understanding by employers for work environments that help persons with ASD to be productive at the workplace