The National Autistic Society has launched a new programme to reduce social isolation and loneliness among autistic adults in Scotland.
Social communication can be challenging for many autistic people, and in Scotland, 67% of autistic people feel socially isolated. Autistic adults are also four times more likely to experience chronic loneliness than the general population.
Negative attitudes towards autistic people also contribute to isolation and loneliness, with one in eight autistic people having experienced being asked to leave a public place because of autistic behaviours.
This has prompted NAS to start a new programme which provides participants with opportunities for regular social interaction with autistic peers who are facing similar transitions, life stages, and challenges – such as unemployment and late diagnosis.
Two groups will meet in Glasgow and one will meet online
‘Connections’ aims to support over 130 autistic men and women aged 25-55 through a user-led, peer support approach.
The programme will involve three groups per year which will meet fortnightly – two of which will be open to autistic men in Glasgow, and one online group open to autistic women across Scotland.
Participants will be encouraged to showcase their unique strengths and interests without fear of judgement or stigma, so they can overcome shared challenges and work towards personal goals.
In doing so, NAS hope to create a safe space for autistic adults, where social connections can be nurtured and friendships and support networks can be formed.
Navigating a world that is ‘inherently neurotypical’
Rob Holland, Director of the National Autistic Society Scotland said: “It can be extremely challenging for autistic adults to navigate a social world that is inherently neurotypical, and this is often made worse by stigma and discrimination.
“With so many autistic adults experiencing loneliness it’s really important that there is autism-specific support out there, which is why we’re delighted to launch Connections.
“Through this project, we hope to create a community where autistic adults can interact, support one another, and build strategies in an environment that is free of judgement and stigma.
“Our dedicated staff team has over 20 years’ experience of delivering social programmes for autistic people, and I’d like to thank them for all their hard work which has made this new targeted programme of support possible.”