Marion Hersh, PhD, Michael Dawson, and Panda Mery, MSc
Competition Sponsor: UK Research and Innovation
The Problem: Exclusion and isolation of autistic people; Lack of knowledge and understanding of the needs of older autistics; Barriers to contributing to society (right not privilege), though (older) autistics have a lot to offer; Experience and expertise of (older) autistic people undervalued.
Proposed Solution: Autistic people will have a major role in developing it. The following scenarios illustrate what it will look like.
Scenario 1: Older autistic person living with their parents; Unnecessarily dependent; Parents getting older and contacted charities whose solutions continue dependence.
Using the solution: Tools and information about confidence building and assertiveness; Links to groups of autistic people to discuss problem and possible solutions and for companionship; Tools to structure thinking about options and work out what is best. E.g. mindmapping tools; Links to advocates who can help them.
Benefits: Able to plan for changing living situation; Increased control of own life, independence, self-confidence and assertiveness; Increased opportunities for relationships and activities; Improved health.
Scenario 2: Frustrated older autistic person; other people take advantage of them and put them down at work; no opportunities to use or develop their skills; Not given the training that leads to opportunities; Age discrimination
Using the Solution: Confidence building and assertiveness tools; Tools and information to identify new options; Links to advocates: guidance in completing applications for new job or college/university or talking to employer about training and a better job.
Benefits: Awareness of range of options; Able to determine and implement changes; Greater satisfaction and feeling of worth.