Joining I AM can make a world of difference to the lives of people with Autistic Spectrum Conditions (ASC) and their families. And since it’s that time of year again when memberships are up for renewal it is also a great time to join us and get a full year of membership.
People join clubs and organisations for a whole variety of reasons so we thought we would give you the top ten reasons why joining I AM is a really great thing to do.
1. You’ll meet like-minded people and make new friends – Having friends is important for our mental health. Sometimes people with ASC struggle to find friends and maintain these friendships. As a result, they can feel isolated and lonely. Sometimes within these friendships ASC individuals may also have to try and fit in and not be their true selves. At I AM we offer a wide variety of group activities where you will meet like-minded people who will accept you for who you are.
What our members say, “Taking part in the Youth Group is the only time my son can really be himself and relax in a social situation”
2. Try new things – Through our social and leisure activities you will be able to try new things (if you want to). We all have aspirations and goals but often we need support with achieving these. Whether it’s going on a rollercoaster at Blackpool or going out for a meal, at I AM we can provide you with these opportunities to broaden your horizons but in a way that is supported and non-judgemental.
What our members say, “I wouldn’t have had the confidence to go to a pub but when we go as part of the Aspirations Adult Group we have a great time, I feel confident and just like everyone else”
3. Have a voice – Being a member of I AM means that you can vote at our AGM on matters that are important to the autistic community. You can help to shape and inform I AM to be the organisation that you want it to be.
4. Develop skills – Being part I AM means that you can learn new skills from cooking through to computing or gaming and art. Also, it is an opportunity to practice social and communication skills in an environment that is safe, supported, and non-judgemental. If you are not confident about your social skills it’s OK because you are with people who understand ASC and will provide the time and space for you to grow both your skills and confidence in using them.
What our members say, “The staff at I AM are always there to help if I feel a bit overwhelmed, I don’t have to tell them, they just know”
5. Be part of a community – Feeling that you belong to a community is important for all of us. At I AM we are a community and we support our members and their families through good times and bad. We are a listening ear to provide support with the challenges that ASC individuals and their families experience and we celebrate the successes of our members and their families with equal enthusiasm. From new jobs, exam passes and even marriages and engagements, we are by your side every step of the way.
What our members say, “Sometimes as a parent I feel I’m constantly battling a system that just doesn’t work for my daughter, the team at I AM are an oasis where I can offload and know they understand”.
6. Routine – Especially now that we are coming out of lockdown many of us have found that we haven’t been out and about much. Having a date in the diary every week helps us to have a reason to get out and meet people. Sometimes it feels easier to stay at home, especially as that’s where we’ve been for so long, but having a routine and a regular “date” in the diary motivates us and improves our mental health and wellbeing. It provides a focus and a constant in what might otherwise be a lonely week.
What our members say, “I have really missed the groups, they gave me something to look forward to every week”.
7. Provides a break for parents/carers – Here at I AM we understand that parenting an ASC child can be hugely rewarding but it can also be challenging and exhausting. As a parent there are many competing demands on your time, especially if there are siblings. If your child attends our Youth Groups it provides them with an enjoyable experience and you with a bit of a break!
What our members say, “When ….. comes home from the youth group we have something to talk about, something that they can tell me that is independent from me, otherwise it’s just them and me all the time and we run out of things to talk about”.
8. Having fun – Having fun is something that has been a rare commodity recently. So now is the time to put that right and focus on enjoyment and fulfilment. Life is all about making memories and sharing experiences with others. By joining I AM it enables you not only to have fun but also to make memories that will last a lifetime.
What our members say, “They just want …… to be like every other teenager and have some fun, the Youth Groups enable them to do the things that other kids their age do”.
9. Peer Support – Peer support is when people use their own experiences to help each other. It brings together people with shared experiences to support each other and provides a space where you feel accepted and understood. Our members have the power of “lived experience”. They support each other through sharing this experience with each other.
What our members say, “The friends I have made through I Am are different, they understand what I go through every day, I can be honest with them about things”.
10. You are helping us to support people with autism in Greater Manchester – Like many charities I AM has been hit hard financially by the pandemic. Yet despite this throughout we have continued to support our members through Zoom Groups and one-to-one support. The money from your memberships helps to fund our Help and Advice Line and respond to emails from people and their families who are struggling with ASC. It also keeps the boring stuff going like paying the bills! Now more than ever we need your support to enable us to continue to support you. Please do renew your membership or join us so that we can continue with our work and make Greater Manchester a great place for people with ASC and their families.
Don’t delay – re-join or join today!