Aspies do not suffer from having Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) but very often suffer from the way they are treated by neurotypicals (people who do not have an autistic spectrum condition).
Adults with AS are different (sometimes unable to communicate easily, seeming awkward, difficult and clumsy) and because of this they can encounter numerous problems and have usually been bullied throughout childhood, teens and beyond.
Some are able to ‘pretend to be normal’ and manage to fit in and find employment but often at a highly stressful cost. Others, however, do not receive any help or support and become withdrawn and isolated, unable to cope with everyday living, let alone employment, spiralling downwards into depression and despair even though they are highly intelligent and long for acceptance and inclusion. The effect on these adults and the families involved in their care is devastating and long lasting.
This however, needn’t be the case as those with AS are highly intelligent, honest, reliable and capable of intense concentration and, with a little understanding, can succeed in higher education, hold down jobs and live independently.
The idea of a group for people with Asperger’s by people with Asperger’s was Sarah’s back in July 2011. With a lot of research, hard work and determination ASPIE opened its door just a couple of months later on 28th September 2011 and has been open every Wednesday since. Originally the group was based in a premises kindly loaned to the charity on the Tything but in April 2012 we took out a lease on our current property in Sansome Walk that we have really settled in to and made our own.
ASPIE provides a space where AS adults, partners/parents/friends) can meet, where we feel welcome, accepted and supported. We encourage each other to re-engage and join in various discussions and activities enabling us to rebuild our confidence and self-esteem and achieve our own individual goals, be they working towards education, training, employment or simply enjoying life. Essentially we are a social self-help and motivation group for adults with Asperger’s.
To aid this we facilitate a variety of activities that members can join in and we have our own counsellors who work with members individually as well as together to improve social and communication skills, help them understand themselves and the neurotypical world – what comes naturally to neurotypicals and not to aspies, allocating priorities and managing time etc. Membership includes 40-50 aspies from all 6 counties of the West Midlands with an age range of 18 to 70+ getting together to be with like minded others.
You are welcome to join us whether you have an official diagnosis, are on a waiting list or even self-diagnosed. You can come along alone or with a friend/ partner/parent accompanying you OR send your agent to check us out first! We want everyone to really feel like part of the group and welcome member’s opinions on how we should run the group, the direction we take and what we do. That said you are also welcome to come and just sit and observe what goes on!
What our members say…
“Thank you for changing my life.”
“I’ve only been attending ASPIE for a few months but already it has made a big difference to me and, consequently, my life. Having the chance every week to ‘breathe’, relax and be myself around like minded people without feeling like I have to put on a performance or censor myself has greatly reduced my stress levels which in turn has reduced my general anxiety and allowed my confidence both in and outside of the group to grow.”
“I had been anxious about attending the group as I worried that identifying myself with other Aspies would just serve to further isolate me from ‘neuro-typicals’ but the increased confidence it has given me has actually helped. I finally feel a sense of belonging I’d searched so many other places for and far from wanting to disassociate myself from being in such a group I am proud to be a member of ASPIE!”
‘It’s given me a reason to go outside and interact with human beings. It’s been a lifesaver, really. We don’t have many friends outside of ASPIE. It has helped with my depression and anxiety.’
‘The greatest exclusive club in the world. I would rather be here than anywhere’.