The transition from the relative safety of the school and family environment to the world of independent living can be scary to contemplate for young people with autism and their families, so creating a Circle of Support is an option that can help with this process.
A Circle of Support is a group of people who are intentionally invited to come together in friendship and support of a person with a disability, for the purposes of protecting their interests into the future.
We know there is a limited amount of government-funded support and the reality is there will never be enough for all those who may have needs. Creating a Circle of Support is one way in which families, their extended family, friends and wider community can assist meaningfully in supporting a young person with autism.
It’s about making a positive change, sharing ideas with allies, having people who care and are willing to watch over a vulnerable family member.
“A Circle of Support can be called anything, for example champions, coffee circle, social circle or intentional network. What is important is that there is a purpose for bringing people together who are unpaid, who care about and have the best interests of the disabled person at the core” (Te Pou newsletter, August 2012).
There are numbers of services and initiatives out there who can provide information on Circles of Support and other ways of assisting people with disabilities achieve their short and long-term goals.
These include Lifestyle Interactionz, www.lifestyletrust.org.nz; Imagine Better www.imaginebetter.co.nz and Enabling Good Lives www.enablinggoodlives.co.nz
This article first appeared in Altogether Autism Journal, Issue 2, 2016.