Launching Connect4, a new in-school and inter-school autistic community

This week Specialisterne NI  are celebrating the launch of Connect4, a new in-school and inter-school autistic community which has been designed by 100 autistic young people across 10 secondary schools in N Ireland. The programme is called Connect4 as the young people designed it to have fun and connect with others, including other autistic young people, both in their own school and in other schools. Connect4 is funded by the National Community Lottery Fund as part of its Empowering Young People programme.

What does Connect4 involve?

Connect4 is made up of ICONNECT, INTERCONNECT and WE CONNECT programme activities. All activities are hop-on and hop-off, which means participants get to take part when it suits them and their studies.

ICONNECT

  • In individual and group sessions participants learn how to connect more with others through role-play, games and discussion

INTERCONNECT

  • Interest Groups- lunchtime or after-school groups and activities.
  • Inter-school monthly group workshops.
  • Summer programme- trips and interest groups over the summer.

WE CONNECT

  • Connect4 sessions for teaching and support staff where staff learn what Connect4 participants would like them to know
  • ‘Bring a friend’ workshops where participants can invite non-autistic pupils
  • Future Connect workshops when participants learn from employer mentors, including autistic mentors, who share how you can best get ready for work, and what it is like to be an autistic adult in N Ireland and in other countries.

Isn’t that 3 parts- Connect3?

It is 3 parts! The Connect4 of the title refers to the small groups of shared interests, e.g. Fortnite, Oculus VR, stage make-up, acting, Lego League, board games, or football. Having at least 3 other young people who share your interest is pretty cool, although Connect10 was suggested!

Won’t Connect4 affect my studies?

We hope it will (positively)! The Connect4 team liaise with the school staff so that it fits in with school life and is a win-win. Teaching staff and classroom assistants who took part in the 2 year pilots report that participants performed better in their studies. They thought this was because participants seemed more confident and looked forward to taking part in the workshops.

Why Connect4?

Connect4 connects autistic young people across schools to have fun together and learn from each other.

This fits in with the National Lottery Community Fund, ‘Empowering Young People’s aims which are that

  • Young people will have more skills they need for the future.
  • Young people will have better relationships with their support networks and communities.
  • Young people will have improved health and well-being.

Who leads Connect4?

The participants! The most common word in young people’s feedback so far has been fun! The Connect4 team listen to Connect4 participants who decide what activities they want to do and when, on an ongoing basis, In this way participants create their own programme which is important as it takes away some stress ‘ When you do something there is not a lot of stress.’

Who is Specialisterne NI?

Specialisterne NI is part of an international network working across 15 countries for 15 years to help autistic people to get ready for, secure and sustain rewarding careers. Specialisterne pioneered Autism at Work which is now a major international movement. In N Ireland, Specialisterne has an autistic adult community, 2gether, who inspired Connect4 as a participant suggested they would have liked to have started 2gether earlier. 2gether is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and is in it’s 3rd year. All the Connect4 team have studied autism at university and have a passion for and experience in supporting autistic people to achieve what they want in life, from starting out in a new career to getting your message across.

Connect4 will connect autistic young people to each other as well as other autistic communities of young people in other parts of the world, including the amazing I CAN network in Australia.

How do I take part?

There are 50 places per year in Connect4. To find out more or to take part, contact Elaine Stephens at Elaine.stephens@specialisterne.com or ask your school SENCO to contact Elaine.

Would you like to join our team? We are currently recruiting the Connect4 team, see details https://www.specialisterneni.com/connect4jobroles/

We look forward to hearing from you!

We are recruiting a new team! Senior Autism Consultant and Autism Consultants- Connect4, a ground-breaking new in-school and inter-school autistic community programme designed by 100 autistic pupils.

 

Specialisterne Northern Ireland is an Autism at Work consultancy, which opened in Belfast in April 2014. As part of the Specialisterne International Network, which spans 15 countries for 15 years, and which pioneered the Autism at Work movement, we aim to support autistic people to get ready for, secure, and sustain, rewarding careers.

We are excited to launch Connect4, a ground-breaking new in-schools and inter-schools autistic community programme which has been designed by 100 autistic pupils across 10 schools. If you are passionate about autism, enjoy listening to autistic young people and following the lead of autistic young people, and you would like to make a difference in the experience of school for autistic young people, we would like to invite you to apply to join the new Connect4 team.

This is an excellent opportunity to join a unique not-for-private-profit organisation in Northern Ireland where you will have the opportunity to work with a small team of autism specialists seeking to develop new tools and techniques which support the career development and well-being of autistic people. Connected to initiatives for autistic young people worldwide, this is an opportunity to innovate in relation to the well-being of autistic young people by contributing to a new model of inclusion in mainstream schools, designed by autistic young people themselves.

Connect4 is a 3 year programme which is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund. It is part of the Empowering Young People programme of the National Lottery Community Fund.

Job Title: Senior Autism Consultant and Autism Consultants- Connect4, a groundbreaking new in-school and inter-school programme designed by 100 autistic pupils. (Full-time hours (37.5 hours) and part-time hours (18.75 hours)).

The Connect4 programme was designed following 2 years consultation with 100 autistic young people and consultation with school staff, including classroom assistants, SENCOs, and teaching teams. As a result, Connect4 will support 50+ autistic young people per year who are in mainstream schools or who are home-schooled, to get ready to connect with each other, have more opportunities to connect with each other through fun activities, and will inform teaching and support staff and peers in what autistic young people would like them to know.

Connect4 activities will take place in-school and at Specialisterne NI. The Connect4 team of 5 will be composed of Autism Consultants and Senior Autism Consultants who are working full-time or part-time.

Overview: Senior Autism Consultant, Connect4

The Connect4 Senior Autism Consultant will deliver participant support and will be involved in Connect4 programme delivery. The Connect4 Senior Autism Consultant will oversee the linking of Connect4 into school life, so that Connect4 supports pupils to experience success in the school context. Specifically, the Connect4 Senior Autism Consultant will be responsible for:

Overseeing

  • Participant activity and progress, ensuring Connect4 complements and adds to school life
  • Co-ordinating times of sessions in schools

Delivery

  • Delivery on all aspects of Connect4 including:

ICONNECT

  • 1-1 and group sessions, which support participants to develop strategies to connect with others
  • Connect4 curriculum development, responsive to participants’ evolving needs

INTERCONNECT

  • Interest Groups- lunchtime or after-school groups and activities
  • Inter-school monthly group workshops
  • Summer programme, supporting participants to connect with others on trips and interest groups

WE CONNECT

  • Teaching /support staff Connect4 sessions
  • Peer workshops
  • Future Connect – employer mentor activities

Design

  • Utilising Autism experience and expertise to contribute to ongoing project design.
  • Contribute to international research forums and professional networks, research what is being done to support Autistic people across the world. Report on these to team and to participant panel.
  • Support people in the lead.
  • Leading panel meetings
  • Collating participant feedback.
  • Maintaining social impact records.

Ethos

The Connect4 Autism Consultant will ensure all project activities reflect Empowering Young People core outcomes so that:

  • Young people will have more skills they need for the future, including more opportunities to connect with autistic young people at their and other schools.
  • Young people will have better relationships with their support networks and communities, these support networks and communities include other autistic young people, non-autistic peers, staff at school.
  • Young people will have improved health and well-being.

Person Specification

Essential

  • Study in a relevant subject area at undergraduate or post graduate level (this includes currently studying or completed). Examples of relevant study include Atypical Development, Psychology, Education, Community, Autism Spectrum related, Sensory Integration. Other subject areas will also be considered in terms of relevance.
  • Demonstrated interest in and knowledge of autism.
  • Open to learn and to research new tools and techniques that may support Connect4 programme participants to secure Connect4 goals.
  • Aptitude for empowering autistic young people by facilitating autistic people leading.

Desirable

  • Demonstrated in-depth knowledge of autism.
  • Experience in supporting children, young people, or adults on the autistic spectrum to achieve the changes they want.
  • Experience in and aptitude for empowering autistic young people by facilitating autistic people leading.
  • Experience in supporting people in small groups.
  • Experience in documentation of work to a high standard.
  • An aptitude for or willingness to learn programming elements of Lego Mindstorms (applies to one of the roles available).
  • Experience of working in a school environment.
  • A driving licence or ability to travel to participating schools when required (and within working hours).

Terms and Conditions
• 37.5 hours weekly for full-time roles, 18.75 hours for part-time roles, times to be agreed with the successful candidate. Hours typically between 8.30am-4.30pm, Monday -Friday. Location: Based at the Specialisterne NI offices, Skainos, 239 Newtownards Road, Belfast.
•The position is fixed term and is expected to run to November 2022. Salary range: £25-28k, commensurate with experience. There is a 6-month induction plan with Autism Specialists, followed by ongoing learning and professional development.

• Specialisterne NI is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults. Employment to this post is therefore subject to an Access NI Enhanced Check.
• Specialisterne NI is an equal opportunities employer.

The Connect4 programme is  funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.

Overview: Autism Consultant, Connect4

The Connect4 Autism Consultant will deliver participant support and will be involved in Connect4 project delivery. Specifically, the Connect4 Autism Consultant will be responsible for:

Delivery

ICONNECT

  • 1-1 and group sessions, which support participants to develop strategies to connect with others.

INTERCONNECT

  • Interest Groups- lunchtime or after school groups and activities
  • Inter-school monthly group workshops
  • Summer programme, supporting participants to connect with others on trips and interest groups

WE CONNECT

  • Peer workshops
  • Future Connect – employer mentor activities

Design

  • Utilising Autism experience and expertise to support participants to contribute to ongoing project design.
  • Contribute to international research forums and professional networks, research what is being done to support Autistic people across the world. Report on these to team and to participant panel.

Ethos

The Connect4 Autism Consultant will ensure all project activities reflect Empowering Young People core outcomes so that:

  • Young people will have more skills they need for the future, including more opportunities to connect with autistic young people at their and other schools.
  • Young people will have better relationships with their support networks and communities, these support networks and communities include other autistic young people, non-autistic peers, staff at school.
  • Young people will have improved health and well-being.

Person Specification

Essential

  • Study in a relevant subject area at undergraduate or post graduate level (this includes currently studying or completed). Examples of relevant study include Atypical Development, Psychology, Education, Community, Autism Spectrum related, Sensory Integration. Other subject areas will also be considered in terms of relevance.
  • Demonstrated interest in and knowledge of autism.
  • Open to learn and to research new tools and techniques that may support Connect4 programme participants to secure Connect4 goals.
  • Aptitude for empowering autistic young people by facilitating autistic people leading.

Desirable

  • Demonstrated in-depth knowledge of autism.
  • Experience in supporting children, young people, or adults on the autistic spectrum to achieve the changes they want.
  • Experience in supporting people in small groups.
  • Experience in documentation of work to a high standard.
  • An aptitude for or willingness to learn programming elements of Lego Mindstorms (applies to one of the roles available).
  • A driving licence or ability to travel to participating schools when required (and within working hours).

Terms and Conditions
• 37.5 hours weekly for full-time roles, 18.75 hours for part-time roles, times to be agreed with the successful candidate. Hours typically between 8.30am-4.30pm, Monday -Friday. Location: Based at the Specialisterne NI offices, Skainos, 239 Newtownards Road, Belfast.
•The position is fixed term and is expected to run to November 2022. Salary range: £20-24k, commensurate with experience. There is a 6-month induction plan with Autism Specialists, followed by ongoing learning and professional development.

• Specialisterne NI is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults. Employment to this post is therefore subject to an Access NI Enhanced Check.
• Specialisterne NI is an equal opportunities employer.

The Connect4 programme is  funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.

Application Process
• Interested applicants should send a Curriculum Vitae to:
Sharon Didrichsen, Manager, Specialisterne NI
By email: sharond@specialisterne.com
Or by post to:
Sharon Didrichsen
Specialisterne NI
Skainos
239 Newtownards Road
Belfast
BT4 1AF
• Closing date for applications: 31 October 2019
• For additional information regarding Specialisterne NI, visit https://www.specialisterneni.com or contact Sharon Didrichsen at sharond@specialisterne.com Mobile 07565 936191

Bank of Autism Consultants

• With applicant permission, applicants from the shortlist for this post may also be considered for Recruit Autism Consultant roles, and/or the Specialisterne NI Bank of Autism Consultants for part-time or full-time roles.