Resources for Autism is a north London charity whose AU Struck social group has benefitted from a grant from the Gunners Fund, which was set up in 2012 to support local projects. This is 27-year-old Joe’s story…
“I found Resources for Autism through my then-social worker. I approached them in 2011 to get the support I needed after being diagnosed with High Functioning Autism (HFA) – a form of autism similar to Asperger Syndrome that can affect the ability to communicate, recognise emotion and interact socially.
“I’d been housebound with anxiety and was feeling incredibly lonely, but then I discovered that help was out there. “Resources for Autism offered practical support from the start, and I joined some of its groups including art and photography, a confidence group and AU Struck, a social group for adults with HFA and Asperger Syndrome.
“I had a lot of help in terms of emotional support, too. All the group leaders understood my social difficulties and I met other people on the autistic spectrum who I could identify with.
“I suffered from anxiety before I started going to these groups and I found it difficult to use public transport. I now have a “travel trainer” to help me get to my groups. It’s been great travelling with him because he really understands my anxiety and helps me to overcome it.
“Three years on, I feel very different compared to when I first approached Resources for Autism. I feel like I belong in society now.
“I’m also now an administration volunteer at Resources for Autism. A member of staff called Charlotte arranged some work in the office doing ID cards and various other admin jobs. The volunteer role has helped me get out into the workplace and I have more confidence now. Plus I’m just happy to help people and do what I can within my limitations.
“I think HFA and Asperger Syndrome get overlooked. Because you are intelligent, your difficulties are not always obvious. Anything that raises awareness and understanding of this is great.
“It’s great to have a link with Arsenal, too. My great grandfather worked at the club and supporting Arsenal has always been in my family.”