Second Workshop - for foster carers

Hi again all,

After having neglected this for a while (oops) I thought I would update after the second autism workshop I have completed and update on further progress on both projects. If someone had told me I would be doing both of these projects and my research project at university this time last year, I would have laughed in their face quite frankly! I still can't believe that I actually have the confidence to do what I am doing and being told that I am confident and a good presenter. (Today I even got full marks for content and 'trainer' on the evaluation forms!) I guess this partly comes from being passionate about my subject and the topic at hand, but also faith in the right words coming for the right people at the right time.

This workshop was for a different target audience to the last one, as foster carers for a fostering agency. The support group ended up being quite a small group of 10 of us in total, but it actually was the perfect size for a workshop style open table. I had adapted my materials from the autism and churches workshop to use examples more relevant to this target audience (for example instead of describing how may feel walking into a busy church foyer, how it may feel walking into the O2 and waiting for the gates to open for a concert). I also included a small section on SPELL as a pointer regarding this, more as a signpost to other sources.

The discussion throughout the presentation was really interesting and insightful for me as someone who has only a basic knowledge of the care system in the UK and hearing about some of the things we have discussed in our Service Issues and Case Study modules. It gives real context to what I am learning so I am very grateful for this information that I got to hear and discuss with the carers.
One of the things that seems to have been a real plus through having a smaller group is the discussion that comes out of the material that is presented, and real questions and answers can be given after thoughtful reflection. We as a group had much great discussion not only on the information at hand, but questions peeling off the topic like 'is a diagnosis beneficial?', ideas around independent living and growing independence and the reality of being a carer in modern Britain.

We also briefly discussed a comment brought up at the end of my last training session regarding autism and churches, that an autism friendly church is beneficial for everyone, not autistic individuals and we further explored the idea that this is actually the case in life. This made a particularly interesting discussion as we all believed that society should be more accessible for everyone, not just for certain groups of people in certain ways.

I also never like to stand at the front when I present... I don't believe anyone is truly an expert on anything (especially autism) and me standing at the front makes it feel like a classroom. We aren't in a classroom, we are all adults who are here to learn differing things from each other, which is why I sit on a chair. Also for the practical reason of anxiety making my legs shake and that being a distraction... but this informal style seems to have a positive outcome.

I have been invited to two further support groups in two other counties and maybe even to do a training day in addition - watch this space!
Bis bald


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