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Enhancing the social networks of adults with ASD: a low level community intervention

Enhancing the social networks of adults with ASD: a low level community intervention This paper aims to design and evaluate an innovative community-based service for adults with autism in a rural region of Northern Ireland. The goal was to reduce their social isolation through gaining social skills and building social networks.Design/methodology/approachOver three years, 54 persons with a median age of 21 years received 12 months of one-to-one, personalised support and opportunities to participate in peer groups and social activities which are detailed in the paper. Quantitative and qualitative information about the impact of the service was obtained from its users, their relatives, as well as service personnel.FindingsService users rated themselves to have changed in more ways than did their relatives and staff although there was a consensus that the changes were most marked in terms of spending more time out of the house, engaging in more community activities, being more independent and increased confidence. The main benefits they perceived from participation in the project were socialising, new experiences and learning new things.Research limitations/implicationsAs with many service projects, a longer term follow-up of service users was not possible due to resource constraints.Practical implicationsThe service could be replicated with suitable staff although current constraints on social care budgets have limited its expansion to more users and extension to other areas in Northern Ireland.Social implicationsReducing the social isolation of adult persons with autism spectrum disorders needs to be personalised to the person, their living circumstances and the community in which they live. Family carers also stand to gain from community support services.Originality/valueThis low level, low cost service was implemented in a predominantly rural area with a majority of users from socially deprived areas. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Advances in Autism Emerald Publishing

Enhancing the social networks of adults with ASD: a low level community intervention

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
2056-3868
DOI
10.1108/aia-07-2020-0043
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This paper aims to design and evaluate an innovative community-based service for adults with autism in a rural region of Northern Ireland. The goal was to reduce their social isolation through gaining social skills and building social networks.Design/methodology/approachOver three years, 54 persons with a median age of 21 years received 12 months of one-to-one, personalised support and opportunities to participate in peer groups and social activities which are detailed in the paper. Quantitative and qualitative information about the impact of the service was obtained from its users, their relatives, as well as service personnel.FindingsService users rated themselves to have changed in more ways than did their relatives and staff although there was a consensus that the changes were most marked in terms of spending more time out of the house, engaging in more community activities, being more independent and increased confidence. The main benefits they perceived from participation in the project were socialising, new experiences and learning new things.Research limitations/implicationsAs with many service projects, a longer term follow-up of service users was not possible due to resource constraints.Practical implicationsThe service could be replicated with suitable staff although current constraints on social care budgets have limited its expansion to more users and extension to other areas in Northern Ireland.Social implicationsReducing the social isolation of adult persons with autism spectrum disorders needs to be personalised to the person, their living circumstances and the community in which they live. Family carers also stand to gain from community support services.Originality/valueThis low level, low cost service was implemented in a predominantly rural area with a majority of users from socially deprived areas.

Journal

Advances in AutismEmerald Publishing

Published: Oct 26, 2021

Keywords: Ireland; Autism; Social inclusion; Intervention; ASD; Low level; Adults; Preventative

References