Our Youth Leadership Team are well underway now with their work for 2016. The YLT have had two great meetings since September. The YLT are looking forward to developing campaigns, which will truly empower young people with Autism across Ireland, and ensure all voices will be represented.

Joanne and Laragh, two members of the YLT explain what we have been up to in the following two blogs.

ASIAM Youth Leadership Team Meeting

17th September 2016

Wow I can’t believe it’s been a year since the start of the Youth Leadership Team and we achieved a lot in the last year. So we had our first meeting of the year on the 17th September 2016. We all met at St Andrews Resource Centre in Dublin. We have four new members joining us and pretty much we got them up to speed about what we did last year and played games to get to know one another and it was great fun.

As the oldest in the Youth Leadership team I guess you kind of have a responsibility to make sure everybody gets along and support others to share their experiences of having Autism. So we gave ideas about the campaigns that we should do for the year and how we are going to do it.

In the afternoon we had a workshop with the National Learning Network. The National Learning Network are writing a handbook to help young people who are going through transitions, such as from school to college and they wanted to hear our ideas for the book.

We talked about what other people might go through when they are moving to a new place. The person might be worried, anxious, or looking ahead to their new beginning. They explained to us how they can help students with what they are going through.

We discussed how it is important that colleges and schools are aware of our needs, and are willing to support us with Autism. This is especially important when young people transition to a new school, college or work place.

I had a great day and it was really interesting to get to know the new members in AsIAm. This is the just the beginning, but I am happy that we don’t have to hide anymore and more people are getting to know about Autism and other disabilities.

Have a lovely day

Joanne Weller

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ASIAM Youth Leadership Team Meeting

15th October 2016

Another fantastic meeting with the Youth Leadership Team! Our main item on the agenda for discussion was Human Rights. We came up with so many brilliant ideas. We are working towards a campaign during the year, representing everyone with Autism, especially those who are non verbal.

It is so important to represent everyone on the Autistic Spectrum. Especially those who are non – verbal, because they can’t speak for themselves. So, it’s our job to speak for everyone, let everyone know what it’s like living with Autism and to let people understand how hard it is for someone who is non verbal, to try and explain how they are feeling and what they want or need. This is particularly important regarding Human Rights.

We watched some videos of young people speaking about Human Rights. The reason for this was so that we could get a general idea of what our team will be doing. One of the videos was of a young girl named Malala Yousafzai. She is a Pakistini activist for female education. It was so inspiring to see such bravery and courage, especially because she was female and they are seen as second class citizens, where she is from. She was shot in the forehead just because she was fighting for women’s rights to have an education. The bullet travelled through her skin down into her shoulder. She had to have major surgery. Luckily she recovered well and she is still fighting for women’s rights.

Imagine if you were non-verbal. You can’t speak and you want to tell someone how you are feeling, in any scenario. It could be that you are being bullied, being treated unfairly, or even something as simple as trying to tell someone that you are hungry or not feeling well.

This is what we are trying to explain to people. A Theatre director, called Oonagh Murphy came to our meeting and ran a drama workshop with us. We played different games. We also did an exercise where Oonagh read out different statements e.g. making friends is easy, but staying friends is harder. We had to either agree or disagree with that statement. Then, Oonagh laid out all of the different statements on the floor. We had to read them all and stand next to the one we felt and thought very strongly about. It was hard to choose because a lot of the statements were very relevant in my life.

We also did an exercise where we all split up into 4 groups of 3. We had to try and let the audience know where we were, what we were doing and the end result, without trying to speak. We could speak a little bit but it made us all realise how hard it must be to be non-verbal. Then we had to change the ending, either a good ending or a bad ending e.g. someone being kinder etc.

During the meeting we also had to come with a mission statement for the Youth Leadership Team. It had to include who we are, where we are based, what we do and what we are trying to achieve. We all came up with lots of different ideas for the mission statement that describes us the best.

I am so proud to be a part of ASIAM. I feel so proud that we are the ones that are going to help change the world for people with Autism.

Laragh

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