Borders Asperger and Autism Support Group
Families affected by Asperger syndrome or autism often do not know where to turn for help, support, advice – or even a listening ear. By its very nature, it is potentially an isolating condition. The role of Borders Asperger and Autism Group Support is to provide this aid. It is run by volunteers who are parents of people with these conditions who support other parents, siblings, partners, grandparents and professional staff who work with them. It is important for people with autistic behaviours to receive the correct care and attention individually planned around them.
Support, on a one-to-one basis, is through email, Facebook, telephone and personal contact. There is also the opportunity for anyone interested to come together at a monthly meeting to share views, experiences and information. Currently BAAGS has contact with 53 groups across Scottish Borders, all of whom are connected in some way by Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Autism is a complex developmental disorder that typically appears during the first three years of life. It has a neurological basis and occurs in approximately 1 in 500 individuals. ASD covers a spectrum of symptoms and characteristics ranging from mild to severe. While it has been around for many years and more is being discovered all the time, the need for support and understanding has never altered. Bringing the generations together to share knowledge and experience is the strength of the work of BAAGS.
The group has raised money to buy a caravan (‘CARER-VAN) sited on the East coast. This is available to hire for short breaks and holidays. BAAGS also provide training, mainly for professionals, and have been able to attract to Scotland some of the most respected people in the field, many of whom have Asperger syndrome or autism themselves and can offer a very special insight. Recently the group recently won an Adult Learning Award. BAAGS is a registered charity with a small management committee. However its strength is its wide advisory network of people and organisations across Scottish Borders. As part of a citizenship project, a group of Care students from Borders College participated in a sponsored walk from the campus in Galashiels to Melrose Abbey and back. Some dressed in fairy or Goth costumes. Lecturer Bryan Gracie ensured they made it there and back, raising £200 for BAAGS in the process.
The service is very much valued, as people feel they are talking to someone who understands what they are experiencing and how they feel. BAAGS volunteers have learned a range of practical skills such as marketing, event planning and organising, public speaking, advocating, administration, design and publishing, computing – all talents they may not have otherwise developed. These help them publicise the Group and its services and raises awareness of autism and behaviours associated with the condition.
BAAGS has helped many people with Asperger syndrome learn how to cope with the condition, feel they belong in the community and are valued. Volunteers attend health appointments with adults and their partners supporting them through diagnostic stages and then guiding them from diagnosis towards support in financial, social and employment terms.
Training workshop comments
“Thought provoking, made me think!”
“Relating information to my practice.”
“Excellent session, a lot to take in.”
“I need to learn more.”
“All teachers should go on these courses.”
“Gained a huge understanding.’”
“Brilliant! Keep up the good work.”
“Heartfelt thanks for all you do.”