Autism Norfolk Forum: Mental Health Special (Online) 11th January 2022

Joining the Autism Partnership

Michael from the Engagement working group takes some time to explain how he joined the partnership, what he contributes to and encourages others with Autism to join the Partnership.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

My name’s Michael, I’m 24, and I’m on the Autism spectrum. I work as part of the Engagement Working Group. I am very interested in, among other things, music and that’s what I want to go into for a career. I love basically anything Rock n’ Roll from the 50’s through to the present day. So it’s a huge spectrum, and obviously I like some other stuff as well. I’m a keen guitarist and I’ve played for about 15 years and I absolutely love it.

How did you get involved with the Autism Partnership?

In January last year, you let me know an opening had come up for it and asked me if I’d be interested and I said yes I would be. I did my first meeting in January last year, did a few months up until March of in person meetings and then obviously COVID happened and we had to stop things for a few months before we could continue them in a virtual format. And that’s how we’ve been doing it ever since, via video conference. So I’ve been on the working group for just over a year now.

What kind of things do you do for the Partnership?

Well the main remit of what the Engagement Working Group does is to get people involved in what the Partnership’s doing. We’ve done quite a few things but among other things we’ve done: we’ve been putting together a website which will have all sorts of content on there. We’ve been working on doing stuff around the governance of the board, like voluntary agreements and that sort of thing. We’ve put together like an informational thing called Tricky Friends which is to do with helping people on the Autism spectrum with social situations and navigating personal relationships and so on. And we are doing things for Autism Awareness Week and setting all of that up.

Why would you encourage others with Autism to get involved?

Well it’s representation, so the more people that are on the spectrum that are involved the more of a voice it can give. Historically, I would say that people on the spectrum haven’t really had involvement in these things that relate to them and this is an avenue through which now they can get involved, which is a really good thing. I know what it’s like not always feeling listened to and I know a lot of my peers have felt the same at times, so anything that gives that opportunity to have a say in things is welcome. So that’s why I would say that it’s a good thing to get involved in.

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