In a previous blog, I mentioned our San Antonio Area Adults with Asperger’s Meetup. It was named before the DSM V came out, and since the members are already adults they carry the Asperger’s diagnosis. (We did talk about changing the name, but the members didn’t want to.)
This group was started because a woman I was coaching wanted more opportunities to make friends. We started it together.
The intention was purely social: to have a safe place for adults on the spectrum to meet and interact.
In fact, after five years, many friendships have formed. We have a core group that seldom miss a meeting. New people are always welcome to join. We meet the first Sunday of every month from 3:30-5. I generally act as Facilitator, and sometime we have guests present on a topic of interest.
Many of the members go out to dinner afterward, and we have a dinner committee that selects the place in advance. In the beginning when there were just a few people going out together we would vote on the location at the meeting. However, once it became a group of 10-15, we realized we needed to plan in advance to give the restaurant the ability to be ready for a large group. Also, some of our members take public transit and they needed time to plan their rides.
The committee works great! All members are free to suggest additional Meetups throughout the month. People have gone to movies, had gatherings at homes, gone to play mini golf, etc.
If you are interested in starting your own Meetup it is really easy.
Just go to the Meetup site in your area, give it a name that reflects what sort of members you want to attract, and sign up! Meetup does charge a fee for the service, but it is reasonable. You will be surprised when you immediately have members. There are probably people who have told Meetup they are searching for such a group, and Meetup will notify them.
You can also start advertising your group at various locations: college campuses, key providers in the community, fairs, etc.
We have over 150 people who have signed up to be members. Our group allows parents (or other support people) to accompany a member, but we don’t accept people as members who are just curious about adults with Asperger’s or who have autistic children and want to get to know adults. We found that parents need their own group.
However, to bring more acceptance for our members in the community we also have a panel comprised of members that will do speaking engagements.
Our Panel has presented at local conferences, agencies and businesses. Parents are welcome at those sessions and we welcome all questions. Our goal for 2017 is to become totally member led. We have some individuals showing excellent leadership at the meetings, so I will happily turn the group over to them!
By Dema Stout
Dema K. Stout, MA, PCC, CPCC established her private coaching and consulting practice (formerly Synergy Solutions) in 2004 to provide individuals (and their families) with neurodevelopmental disabilities such as AD/HD and Autism Spectrum Disorders the best possible support to achieve the quality of life they want and deserve. Dema spent the majority of her professional career as an employee of human service agencies providing supports to families and their children with disabilities. Upon relocating to San Antonio, TX from California, Dema decided to develop her own consulting business. She finished her initial Coach training with Coaches Training Institute, San Rafael, CA in 2002. She is also a graduate of CTI’s Leadership program and a Certified Nurtured Heart Approach™ Advanced Trainer. Dema has studied with Jodi Sleeper-Triplett, a leader in the field of AD/HD coaching. The services Dema provides maximize the skills she has obtained during her long career to support individuals and their families.