At Aupeer we take a person-centred approach which puts the individual and their self-knowledge at the basis of our peer support service, but also acknowledges the power that comes from accessing the strength and knowledge of the autistic community. We do this by providing access to peer support led by us and you, the members of our groups. All experts by experience.
An expert by experience for us at Aupeer is an individual who has personal lived experience of being autistic. This term is used to differentiate from people who have experience of autism through working with autistic people for example. An expert by experience has knowledge which is unique and valuable, but it should be recognised however that this does not make the individual an expert in other people’s experiences.
Acknowledging this helps peer supporter to provide safe and effective peer support. Why? Effective peer support doesn’t create dependency, it actively works to avoid it. If a recipient of peer support assigns their peer worker the role of rescuer or saviour then they have not unlocked the belief in their own power.
The goal should be to nurture the power within each peer, that is the belief in their own self-worth and self-knowledge. The power that comes from working with yourself not against. Lived experience is used intentionally to assist others experiencing similar life journeys to make sense of their own experience and to make sustainable choices.
We believe that every peer we meet already has key to their own solutions and strategies and we experience this every week, the resourcefulness and ingenuity is always strikingly clear. Yet we all still need a helping hand sometimes and a chance to speak about our experiences.
My role as a peer and expert by experience is to accompany you through this journey, to ‘be with’ rather than ‘do for’. And what a privilege it is.