Designing an organisation to provide for the parents the emotional help they need.

(Pitched: 16/04/2018)

One Page Summary

Addressing the emotional challenges that parents of children with autism may go through. The support will consist in helping the parents overcome the negative thoughts they might encounter, e.g. self-blame, feeling hopeless or afraid.A website and a mobile app will be created. Theywill also include a tutor and therapy specialists database.A 24/7 helpline via phone or text and the opportunity to book a one-to-one/ family group appointment will be available. Fully trained volunteers will be addressing any issue one might experience, provide full information about the disorder and guidance for the options one might have in order to address ASD. In addition, non-English speaking parents will be supportedthrough the help of an interpreter and translated literature.Having 24/7 availability enables us to enrich the number of individuals who are helped and also the quality of our services by addressing each point appropriately, not being restricted by time.
Resources for home-based relaxing techniqueswill be available to order from the website/mobile app i.e. mindfulness exercises and yoga dvds for parents, music therapy for autism and a set of home-massaging tools for the children. These types of therapies are easy to use, rapid and very effective for relaxing, improving wellbeing.
The first step is to have volunteers explain toparents what ASD is and presentdifferent types of therapies, medical solutions, education options and financial support.
Also, having no-follow up after the diagnosis could explain why many families take a long time to seek support. There is a major gap in the market to assess GP’s and specialist’s referral to emotional support organisations. Thus, our project will be adequately advertised with posters in areas where specialists and GP practices are located.
The better autism is understood, the better it can be addressed. For this reason, they will have the opportunity to experience the symptoms themselves. An exercise example could be a virtual reality experience; being exposed to a video involving bright colours, blurry and slow-motion visionthat simulates autistic experiences.
The inability to communicate can be very frustrating. As a consequence, the website will provide information and the necessary communication tools i.e. Makaton sign language book/PECs kit/practical help to download the Proloque2go app.
The website and the mobile app will have abuilt in online support group for the parents to re-enforce the idea that they are not alone. This group will follow a wellbeing model where when parents are seeking support for a particular problem, they need to think of two positives before mentioning the challenge. This will create a positive mind-set and reduce stress as it makes them concentrate on the positives while waiting for support for the challenge. Also, the families will be encouraged to look at the positive side of the spectrum. For example, having the ability to see and perceive things in a unique way, being non-judgmental, and having the capacity to excel in different domains. Several videos/articles of successful autistic individuals will be displayed on the website.

Sharing personal concerns can be daunting and difficult for some people, although it is something they wish they could do. Considering this, the online support group will have the option to create an anonymous account. This will encourage more people to use it as it would make them feel safer and give them more courage to open up to strangers. Therefore, it will contribute to improving their wellbeing.
As social skills are essential in everyday life, it is an important aspect that needs to be addressed. However, some parents may struggle to go to public places. Consequently, social gatherings will be set up in different locations (e.g. parks, restaurants, shops) where children will be taught to develop social skills. The parents’ opinions will also be taken into account by making a vote scheme on the website where they can suggest and vote for locations/activities. The parents will be encouraged to expose their children to take part in different activities (e.g. swimming, painting, bowling) to give the chance to discover children’s possible career opportunities/talents. The sense of fulfilment will ease the parents, thus supporting their wellbeing. These gatherings will be assessed by professional staff ready to offer support. There will be groups of 2-3 families at first then gradually increase the number of families when the children seem ready to be part of a larger group. They will have the option to create a secret group to discuss time and location of meetings.
Having ASD could display challenging behaviours even for the most “easy” every-day tasks. Many parents feel they do not know how to act on it. Thus, they will have the option to book a home appointment with the professionals where they will give hands-on training and model different techniques to work with the child in every-day based situations.