So, Why Autistic Led Peer Support?
The theory of the double empathy problem proposes that when people who experience the world differently interact and communicate, they will struggle to empathise with the other.
Research shows that this applies to both autistic and non- autistic people, challenging the deficit based narrative surrounding autistic communication skills. Yes, we can struggle to figure out what non autistic people mean when interacting, but it applies both ways!
Furthermore we are likely to be more open in our interactions with other autistic people, perhaps indicating we just feel more comfortable connecting with people who think, act and feel similar to us.
Check out this nice summary of the theory of double empathy problem here for more detail and insight into recent studies.
Of course, communication, connection and empathy are at the heart of peer support, as is a basic foundational concept of peer support - lived experience. As heard at a recent conference from Randy Lewis founder of the NOGWOG Disability Initiative … ‘APT – Ask The Person!' We know what we need!
The values of peer support, my lived experience of being autistic and of autistic led peer support, strengthened by recent research means Aupeer's peer support services and any projects we embark on are and will be autistic led.
Okay, but is it impactful?
Yes! Okay I am biased, but it does work, I see it in action each week and here are some insights into how it works:
Feedback from an Aupeer CIC peer support group concept test, the Anchor project, was overwhelmingly positive.
“Prior to the group I haven’t met anyone with high functioning autism. The group has helped me in realising there are other people with the same diagnosis. We are able to share experiences and knowledge of situations to help each other.”
- Richard - Thursday group member
The National Autistic Society published research findings in 2021 based upon autistic people’s experience of accessing dedicated peer support in Wales:
86% found access to peer support helpful.
61% found out useful information and advice.
46% found they were felt better generally
42% reported increased self-confidence.
AutAngel’s wonderful autistic led Exploring Being Autistic Programme evaluated by Dr Laura Crane in 2020 reported the autistic led peer support programme provided many benefits for participants including:
Providing participants with a positive outlook regarding autism.
That the sharing of experiences and hearing the stories of peers with similar experiences and their coping strategies provided a sense of empowerment.
That the autistic led ethos was the overwhelming positive aspect of the programme.
Come meet your community, sign up for a group or one to one session on our service page.