555

555 is a great number, especially when it represents the number of hours autistic young people from 15 grammar and secondary schools, and young people out of school, have spent connecting with each other over Lockdown in Connect4 online social and interest groups.

Connect4 is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund. For details of Connect4 and how your young person could take part, contact Sharon Didrichsen at Sharond@specialisterne.com

 

Would you like to contribute to 1 million careers for autistic people?

 

Specialisterne NI is part of the international Specialisterne network which works across 15 countries to support 1 million careers for autistic people. Specialisterne NI opened in Belfast in 2014 and now has a team of 10 Autism Specialists. We support autistic people, age 10 – 60+,  to feel more confident, to connect with each other, and to prepare for and fulfill rewarding careers. Specialisterne is a pioneer of the Autism at Work movement. Autism at Work inspires companies worldwide to adopt best practice when recruiting and developing the talents of autistic people.

In 2015 Specialisterne NI started a process of consulting with autistic people. Rather than assuming what autistic people want, we asked autistic people about wants and needs and how Specialisterne NI could be of service. This started the creation of a dynamic and exciting culture, by which every programme at Specialisterne NI is informed by participants’ thoughts and ideas. We believe that listening to and acting on the thoughts and ideas of autistic people can lead to changing the root issues which autistic people face in their daily lives.

Due to a period of growth, Specialisterne is recruiting 2 new board members. Having had an interim Chair, we are appointing a Chair.

If you are excited at the opportunity to be part of a participant-led organisation, and are passionate about improving the lives of autistic people, we would like to hear from you.

For an information pack, please contact Sharon Didrichsen at Sharond@specialisterne.com

 

 

UK Work & Pensions Secretary sees local autism work success

Front Row Ciara Kennedy, Development Manager, IBM, The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Thérèse Coffey, and Nuala Smyth, UnLtd with some of the team from Specialisterne NI,, and Specialisterne NI clients

 

On a visit to Northern Ireland today (24 August) the UK Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, Rt Hon Thérèse Coffey MP, took time to visit East Belfast social enterprise, Specialisterne NI, which supports autistic people to start and develop their careers and supports employers to recruit and develop the talent of autistic people.

Part of an international network that works across 15 countries, Specialisterne is a pioneer of ‘Autism at Work’, an international movement, which supports companies to identify and reduce the barriers autistic people face entering the workplace. It also helps companies to develop working environments that help autistic people thrive at work. During her visit, the Work & Pensions Secretary met with a number of autistic people working in IT and local IT employers who have recently recruited autistic people.

Welcoming Thérèse Coffey to Specialisterne NI, Managing Director, Sharon Didrichsen, said, ‘We were delighted to welcome the Secretary of State today, and welcome the fact that she was keen to hear first-hand from autistic people in the workplace and companies that welcome autistic people;.

“During the visit we were able to brief the Secretary of State on ways in which we have been able to support talented people with Autism in the workplace. This included our autistic community programme ‘2gether’, which connects autistic people to each other, and our two ‘Recruit’ programmes, which support autistic people to find work.”

During the visit, the Work and Pensions Secretary met 11 autistic people who talked about what it is like to work in Northern Ireland companies. She also heard from autistic people looking for work post Lockdown. Two local employers who have recently recruited autistic people with Specialisterne’s support, shared what recruiting at the moment is like from an employer’s perspective. Ciara Kennedy, Development Manager at IBM, was one of the employers attending today “Diversity and Inclusion are at the very core of IBM’s principles and we are very proud of our local and global work with Specialisterne. We have had great success with the recruitment programme. Our new hires are of exceptional technical talent and are thriving in their teams.”

During the visit, the Specialisterne team shared job outcomes of its 3-year autistic community programme, ‘2gether’, which is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund. Sharon Didrichsen explained that the programme’s aims were decided by autistic people. The aims autistic people decided on include having a career, feeling socially connected, feeling represented, and reducing communication barriers.

“Over the 3 years there were 90 participants on 2gether. 74/90 participants were unemployed on joining 2gether. 75% of those in work felt at risk of losing their job. Participants secured 86 jobs, 13 of which were promotions. Of the 86 jobs, 22% were in IT, 15% in retail, 14% in administrative roles, 9% in finance or risk analyst roles, 9% Trainer roles, 8% roles in various government departments, 8% working in laboratories or in health care, 6% in restaurants, 5% in education and research and 4% in marketing. 21 people started to study 25 courses in total. I think these figures speak for themselves and indicate the talent and abilities that autistic people have for a range of careers,” Mrs Didrichsen said.

The visit was well received by the autistic people who attended, who had opportunity to answer questions as well as to pose questions around disability policy and to make recommendations. Christian, who had secured a job that was cancelled due to Covid-19 said, ‘It was an honour to have been here today and it was fantastic experience to speak to the Secretary of State.’ Rebecca commented ‘The visit today was a very encouraging opportunity for myself and others. Specialisterne deserve the positive recognition that they are receiving for their tireless work and dedication of supporting Autistic people in and out of work’. James said it was “A surreal experience, bringing all parties to the table. This is one way to return to normality”

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Thérèse Coffey said:

“It was wonderful to hear first-hand about the fantastic work that Specialisterne NI does to help people with autism into the world of work.

“In the challenging employment market it is also heartening to know that companies are welcoming those with autism into the fold and supporting their needs.

“Through schemes such as Disability Confident and Access to Work we aim to remove barriers to employment to help grow a diverse workforce that supports people of all needs and abilities.”

 

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Thérèse Coffey

 

James Toolan, Senior Private Secretary, Department for Work and Pensions and Christian, Specialisterne NI client

Some of the team at Specialisterne NI. From left to right Sharon Didrichsen, Managing Director, Maggie Lockhart, Connect4 Autism Consultant, Emily Matchett, Connect4 Autism Consultant, Elaine Stephens, Team Lead, Stacey Austin, Recruit++ Autism Consultant, Sian Dunwoody, Recruit++ Autism Consultant

About Specialisterne NI

Specialisterne NI is a Community Interest Company, which is not for private profit, and which is part of the Specialisterne international network. It works with people who may have a diagnosis of Autism or Aspergers, or who can find communication in the workplace difficult. It also helps employers recruit and retain people with communication difference in the workplace and grow diverse effective teams.

Founded in Belfast in 2014, Specialisterne NI has a team of 10 who support autistic people and employers so that more autistic people secure and sustain better careers.

It currently supports autistic people through five programmes:

  • 2gether, an autistic community programme, which was funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, and delivered over 3 years.
  • Recruit+ and Recruit++, 2 programmes which are funded by the European Social Fund, which support autistic people to secure work. Recruit programmes are part funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014 -2020, the Department for the Economy, the Department for Communities and the Belfast City Council.
  • In-work support
  • Connect4, an autistic community school programme, designed by 100 autistic young people across 10 grammar and secondary schools. Connect4 is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.

Specialisterne NI supports employers by delivering the following services:

  • Autism at Work recruitment: end to end recruitment support for an academy or recruitment of specific roles
  • Training workshops, delivered in person or via Zoom, on how to recruit, manage and develop the talents of autistic people
  • Autism systems change services: reviewing processes within a company so that they better support autistic applicants and employees
  • In -work support and consultation regarding specific employees who are autistic and their teams.

Specialisterne itself was founded in Denmark by IT Manager, Thorkil Sonne, in 2004, who observing his autistic son’s remarkable memory wished his testing team had a memory like him.

Specialisterne works across 15 countries and has the aim of 1 million careers for autistic people. In 2013 Specialisterne pioneered the Autism at Work movement with international clients which include Microsoft, IBM, and SAP.

For more information contact Sharon Didrichsen Email: sharond@specialisterne.com Mobile: 07565 936191 Website: www.specialisterneni.com

 

 

 

 

Working with autistic people -Emerging from Lockdown and Beyond- New interactive virtual workshop series for managers and teams

 

 

Working with Autistic people- Emerging from Lockdown and Beyond

Specialisterne  NI is delighted to launch a new online interactive workshop series for managers and teams. Working with autistic people -emerging from Lockdown and Beyond will support participants to interact with autistic employees in Lockdown, emerging out of Lockdown and beyond, in ways which support autistic people to work at their best. It is based on 6 years of listening to 1000+ autistic people in careers in N Ireland.

This workshop series will support managers and team members to connect better with autistic people (including autistic managers and team members) and will support participants to reflect on how we communicate at work, and to consider how our experience of Lockdown may help develop post-Lockdown communication patterns which are more supportive of individual differences.

Working with autistic people-emerging from Lockdown series explores what it can be like to be autistic in work or working from home and what can support autistic people to work at their best. Informed by autistic people and autism theory,  this workshop series is delivered by trainers who have studied Autism at Masters Level, and who have more than 9 years’ experience working with over 1000 autistic people of all ages, and who specialise in supporting autistic people to progress in careers. Learning material includes role-plays based on the experiences of autistic people in workplaces in N. Ireland, including autistic people working from home, and performed by professional actors, which give insight into autistic people’s experience in work roles.

Working with Autistic People- emerging from Lockdown and Beyond series is delivered in 3 x 1 1/2 hour workshops which can be delivered in-company or inter-company. Delivered online, these interactive workshops are restricted in number of participants to support active participation. Participants observe and have option to comment on role plays performed live by professional actors on the virtual workshop. Online communication preferences for each participant are supported in each workshop.

Specialisterne NI workshops are suited to autistic and non-autistic people attending which helps develop a shared language and understanding around neurodiversity for your company. This is some recent feedback to online interactive workshops delivered by Specialisterne NI

‘It was very informative and interactive workshop, that got you engaged and not just sitting listening’

‘This was the first interactive one which was better than the ‘taught’ ones’

‘Fantastic workshop – looking forward to the next one.’

‘Thank you for the care and effort you have invested in creating these important and helpful workshops’

‘I think it would be very beneficial to keep including the real life scenarios as this is something we can all relate to.’

‘I loved it as I got to enjoy the workshop from the comfort of my own home.’

‘The two leaders were extremely friendly and professional.’

‘A very innovative approach’

‘Was a good experience, especially because it was a small group and we could all interact.’

For details on how to book the Working with Autistic People series for your company, contact Sharond@specialisterne.com

Workshop 1

Working with autistic people- experiences of autistic people and how these may relate to Lockdown 

  • Meet 3 autistic people and learn about their experiences of communicating at work and in Lockdown
  • What autistic people would like employers to know
  • Virtual working and being autistic, what is this like
  • Lockdown and circles of communication, what has changed? what are we learning?
  • Being autistic and emerging out of Lockdown- perspectives of autistic people
Learning outcomes:
  • Participants will understand more about the experiences of autistic people in work and in Lockdown
  • Participants will be able to identify some barriers autistic people may experience to taking more part in team communication
  • Participants will have more understanding of what can support autistic people to feel better and thrive in work environments

Workshop delivery: Actors role play communication moments which participants can observe and have the option of discussing. The Specialisterne team coach participants on the above topics.

Workshop 2

Working with autistic people- experiences of autistic people and how these may relate to emerging out of Lockdown 

  • Meet 3 new autistic people and learn about their experiences of communicating which are relevant to emerging out of Lockdown
  • What autistic people would like employers to know about how autistic people manage changing work environments
  • Moving goalposts and being autistic, what is this like
  • Thinking styles of autistic people
  • The practicalities of work-life and being autistic
  • What can we learn from autistic people about emerging out of Lockdown? Autistic people’s strategies for managing change.

Learning outcomes:

  • Participants will understand more about the experiences of autistic people in work and in Lockdown
  • Participants will learn more about autistic thinking styles
  • Participants will have more understanding of what can support autistic people to feel better and thrive in changing work environments

Workshop delivery: Actors role play communication moments which participants can observe and have the option of discussing. The Specialisterne team coach participants on the above topics.

Workshop 3

Working with autistic people- experiences of autistic people and how these may relate to thriving in a post-Lockdown workspaces

  • Meet 3 new autistic people and learn about their experiences of communicating at work in remote working. in-workplace and in blended workplace environments
  • Have opportunity to observe or take part in role plays of performance reviews and goal setting with autistic people
  • What we can learn from autistic people who are experiencing success in careers, including at management level- perspectives of autistic people
  • Applying what we have learned in Lockdown to post-Lockdown workspaces. What have we learned?
  • Barriers to connecting with autistic people, and behaviours of teams where autistic people thrive- perspectives of autistic people
Learning outcomes:
  • Participants will understand more about the experiences of autistic people who are remote working, are in the workplace or in blended work environments
  • Participants will understand more how to connect with autistic employees in ways which support work performance.
  • Participants will learn more about behaviours of teams where autistic people thrive and how this may support more people to thrive

Workshop delivery: Actors role play communication moments which participants can observe and have the option of discussing OR taking part in the role plays. The Specialisterne team coach participants on the above topics.

You have the option to book 1, 2 or all of the workshop series.

Specialisterne NI have delivered interactive workshops on working with autistic people for 6 years, to a range of clients which include employers of autistic people, university and college teaching staff, and charities related to disability and mental health. Specialisterne NI is a not-for-profit organisation which is part of the Specialisterne international network, working over 15 countries for 16 years to secure 1 million careers for autistic people. Online workshop clients have included clients from N Ireland, and different locations in Europe and USA.

To register your interest, and for details of workshop costs, please email Sharon Didrichsen at Sharond@specialisterne.com, Mobile 07565936191.

Learning from Autistic Young People- Workshops for Teachers and Classroom Assistants

 

 

WE CONNECT workshops for teachers or classroom assistants are online workshops where teachers and classroom assistants explore what it can be like to be autistic at school and how teachers and classroom assistants can support autistic people to work at their best. Informed by autistic young people and autism theory, WE CONNECT workshops are delivered by trainers who have studied Autism at Masters Level, and who have more than 9 years’ experience working with over 1000 autistic people of all ages. Learning material includes role plays written by autistic young people at secondary and grammar schools in N Ireland, and performed by professional actors, which give insight into their experience of school.

WE CONNECT Teacher or Classroom Assistant workshops are free of charge as they are funded by the National Lottery Community Fund as part of the 3-year Connect4 programme. For details on how to enrol pupils on Connect4, see link below:

https://www.specialisterneni.com/connect4-virtual/

Specialisterne NI have delivered interactive workshops on working with autistic people for 6 years, to a range of clients which include university and college teaching staff, employers of autistic people, and staff at charities related to disability and mental health. Specialisterne NI is a not-for-profit organisation which is part of the Specialisterne international network, working over 15 countries for 16 years to secure 1 million careers for autistic people.

Level 1 Workshop

What autistic young people would like you to know. Learning from autistic young people.

A session based on 6 years of listening (via group and individual sessions and surveys) to hundreds of autistic young people in secondary and grammar schools in N Ireland. This session includes:
-What do autistic young people say about being in school?
-What can a day in school be like for different autistic people.
-What barriers can autistic young people face to fully taking part in school life.
-In the classroom- what being in a classroom situation can be like for autistic pupils.
-What can help autistic young people learn and feel good in the classroom and at school.
The Level 1 workshop includes role-plays written by autistic young people and performed over Zoom by professional actors. This interactive workshop includes a pre-workshop questionnaire for participants. Content is tailored specifically to questions raised by participants ahead of the workshop.
Workshop delivery: Actors role play communication moments at school which participants can observe and have the option of discussing. The Connect4 team coach participants on the above topics.
Learning outcomes:
  • Participants will understand more about the experiences of autistic young people in school
  • Participants will be able to identify some barriers autistic pupils may experience to taking more part in school life
  • Participants will have more understanding of what can support autistic pupils to feel better in school environments

Level 2 Workshop

Strategies to connect with autistic young people. Learning from autistic young people.

This Level 2 workshop builds on the knowledge of Level 1 workshop and focuses on connecting with autistic young people. The Level 2 workshop includes:
-Being at home and being autistic – what young people tell us about learning at home.
-Social Communication and learning loops- where social communication impacts cycles of learning.  What does this mean for teachers and classroom assistants?
-Thinking styles of autistic pupils
-Where are my books? and other learning associated barriers. The practicalities of school life and being autistic.
-Interest and autism.
-Barriers to connecting with autistic young people.
Workshop delivery: Actors role play communication moments at school which participants can observe and have the option of discussing. The Connect4 team coach participants on the above topics.
Learning outcomes:
  • Participants will understand more about the experiences of autistic young people in school
  • Participants will understand more about autistic learning styles
  • Participants will have some strategies to connect with autistic pupils which are informed by autistic people

Level 3 Workshop

Autistic young people, thriving and learning, what is that like? Learning from autistic young people.

This Level 3 workshop builds on the knowledge of Level 1 and 2 workshops and focuses on how autistic people learn as well as happiness and autism and school environments. Participants have opportunity to role play communication scenarios with professional actors in the workshop.
– Learning and the autistic mind
-What makes autistic people happy, the happiness-learning connection
-What autistic people tell us are the components of environments in which they thrive
-Careers of autistic people, learn about life journeys of autistic people in leading careers in N Ireland
-Retrospectives: what autistic adults would like you to know.
Workshop delivery: Actors role play communication moments at school which participants can observe and have the option of discussing. The Connect4 team coach participants on the above topics. Participants in the Level 3 workshop have opportunity to observe the role play communication scenarios and also to take part in the role plays (taking part is optional).
Learning outcomes:
  • Participants will understand more about autistic culture
  • Participants will understand more about how autistic people thrive in school and in work
  • Participants will learn more about autistic adults and careers of autistic people in N Ireland
  • Participants will have had opportunity to try out new ways of interacting with autistic pupils

Teachers and classroom assistants access the workshops online, which can be booked per school or inter-school. Numbers per workshop are limited to support session interactivity and increase learning outcomes.

Connect4 teacher and classroom assistant workshops are available to schools where pupils are taking part in Connect4. https://www.specialisterneni.com/connect4-virtual/

To register your interest, please email Sharon Didrichsen at Sharond@specialisterne.com, Mobile 07565936191.

 

Connect4 VIRTUAL Workshops Launch and How to Join

Connect4 VIRTUAL Workshops Launch and How to Join

Connect4 is a new 3-year programme which is designed by 100 autistic young people across 10 secondary and grammar schools in N Ireland, and which is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund. 100 autistic young people have told us they would like to connect more with others, including connecting with other autistic young people, and with autistic young people in other schools, and that there can be challenges in connecting with others.

Connect4 connects autistic young people to each other through in-school, inter-school and online opportunities to meet-up and learn together. At this time, it is important, and perhaps it is even more important for autistic young people to connect with others and stay connected.

Connect4 workshops are available for

  • Autistic young people in secondary or grammar schools in N Ireland, or who are out of school
  • Teachers and classroom assistants at secondary or grammar schools in N Ireland
  • Parents of autistic young people who are in secondary or grammar schools in N Ireland, or who are out of school

All workshops are currently available online.

Connect4 Workshops for Autistic young people

The Connect4 programme offers autistic young people 3 ways to connect with others and to stay connected. All 3 opportunities are currently available weekly online. Young people access the workshops via a link on Zoom, using a laptop or using the Zoom app. All workshops are limited in numbers and require registration. To register your interest, please use the Expression of Interest form below or email Sharon Didrichsen at Sharond@specialisterne.com

  • INTERCONNECT workshops are fun workshops which are opportunities to connect with each other over, for example board games, cooking at home, and interest Meet-ups. INTERCONNECT workshops are currently available weekly online, per school and inter-school. INTERCONNECT workshops link up autistic young people via Zoom to connect over a special interest or to play a game together.
  • ICONNECT workshops are where autistic young people connect with each other in small groups to learn more about connecting with others. Small groups can be for young people at one school, or inter-school groups. ICONNECT workshops use drama and fun activities to explore what it can be like to be autistic at school. Together we learn how to connect more with others, how to stay connected, and how to thrive in shared learning environments such as school or work.
  • WE CONNECT workshops connect groups of autistic young people with employers and autistic adults over Zoom. Facilitated by Specialisterne’s Connect4 team of Autism Consultants, WE CONNECT workshops are for autistic young people who may wonder what it may be like to work in a specific career as an autistic person. A wide range of careers can be accommodated due to Specialisterne’s international network of employers and of autistic people thriving in all types of careers.

The autistic young people who designed Connect4 told us it is important young people get to choose which parts are of interest. That is why Connect4 is a ‘pick and mix’ programme, where each young person chooses which parts they would like to take part in and when, as well as deciding what the sessions should look and feel like, and vote together to decide what the activities should be.

Connect4 Workshops for Teachers and Classroom Assistants

Connect4 provides teachers and classroom assistants at schools taking part in Connect4 with WE CONNECT Teacher or Classroom Assistant workshops. WE CONNECT workshops for teachers or classroom assistants are weekly online workshops where participants explore what it can be like to be autistic at school and how teachers and classroom assistants can support autistic people to work at their best.

Informed by autistic young people and autism theory, WE CONNECT workshops are delivered by trainers with more than 8 years’ experience working with over 1000 autistic people of all ages. Learning material includes role plays written by autistic young people at secondary and grammar schools in N Ireland, which give insight into their experience of school.

WE CONNECT Teacher or Classroom Assistant workshops are free of charge as they are funded by the National Lottery Community Fund as part of the 3-year Connect4 programme.

Teachers and classroom assistants access the workshops via a link on Zoom, using a laptop or using the Zoom app. All workshops are limited in numbers and require registration. To register your interest, please use the Expression of Interest form below or email Sharon Didrichsen at Sharond@specialisterne.com

Connect4 Workshops for Parents of autistic young people

Connect4 provides parents of autistic young people who are taking part in Connect4 with WE CONNECT: Parent workshops. WE CONNECT workshops for parents are weekly online workshops where participants explore what it can be like to be autistic at school and at home and how parents can support autistic people to work at their best.

Informed by autistic young people and autism theory, WE CONNECT workshops are delivered by trainers with more than 8 years’ experience working with over 1000 autistic people of all ages. Learning material includes role plays written by autistic young people at secondary and grammar schools in N Ireland, which give insight into their experience of school.

WE CONNECT parent workshops are free of charge as they are funded by the National Lottery Community Fund as part of the 3-year Connect4 programme.

Parents access the workshops via a link on Zoom, using a laptop or using the Zoom app. All workshops are limited in numbers and require registration. To register your interest, please use the Expression of Interest form below or email Sharon Didrichsen at Sharond@specialisterne.com

Who is Specialisterne?

Specialisterne NI is part of an international network working across 16 countries for 16 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 its 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.

Meet the Team

The Connect4 Team include Sharon, Elaine, Ruth, Emily and Maggie. We have all studied Autism at master’s level. Here’s a little more about us:

Sharon: Specialisterne started in Denmark in 2004, 10 years later Sharon brought the model to N Ireland and has enjoyed supporting over 1000 autistic people on their journey so far. Sharon could talk about autism all day long and loves going for walks by the sea.

Elaine: After supporting autistic people at Queen’s University, Elaine joined the Specialisterne team as Team Leader of team of 9 autism consultants. Elaine has supported over 1000 autistic people on their journeys. Elaine enjoys travelling, walks on the beach and time with her new puppy Jasper.

Ruth is a Foreign Languages Teacher who joined Specialisterne 2 years ago, supporting autistic adults to secure careers. Ruth has a Master’s in Special Education. Ruth is the Connect4 Programme Co-ordinator and helps ensure the Connect4 programme fits in with and supports school life.

Maggie is an Autism Consultant who joined the team last year, supporting Specialisterne’s adult autistic community, Maggie studied Psychology in Mexico. Maggie has worked with young people for most of her time in N Ireland and finds autism fascinating. Maggie is really looking forward to getting to know all the Conenct4 participants and having fun with them

Emily has just joined the team and cannot wait to get started. Emily loves working with kids and is excited to bring people together and have fun! She loves Connect 4 as it provides opportunities for lots of different kinds of people to get together and learn from each other. Emily loves chatting to people, playing sports and learning new things. Emily has a BSc Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience and is completing an MSc Applied Psychology.

 

Some of the Connect4 team. From left to right: Emily, Elaine and Maggie

 

Connect4 Expression of Interest Form (please copy and paste or send the answers in an email to Sharond@specialisterne.com)

Name

 

Date of Birth
Contact Email Address (parent or teacher’s email please).
Contact Phone Number (parent or teacher’s contact number)
Address  

 

Mobile Number
How do you prefer to be contacted?
How did you hear about Connect4?
Do you consider yourself to be on the Autistic Spectrum?  

 

 

Connect4 activities include:

  • ICONNECT Workshops for autistic young people
  • INTERCONNECT workshops for autistic young people
  • WE Connect workshops for autistic young people
  • WE CONNECT workshops for teachers
  • WE CONNECT workshops for classroom assistants
  • WE CONNECT workshops for parents

Which of these would you be interested in attending?

Please write any additional comments on why you are interested in participating in Connect4  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connect4 is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.

Thank you for taking the time to complete this form. Please email your completed form to sharond@specialisterne.com

Should you have questions regarding Connect4, please contact Sharon on 07565 936191, email sharond@specialisterne.com

Thank you for your interest in Connect4.

2gether and Recruit Programmes go online! #stayconnected

The 2gether Autistic Community has gone online with coffee meet-ups, cookery meet-ups and 1-1 support being delivered over Zoom. What we didn’t expect was how many would join! Last night we had 50% more people attending our 2gether evening workshop via Zoom- it was great craic! Today we have the 2gether women’s meet-up over lunch, Monday is the 2gether coffee meet-up and later in the week we have our first online cookery session. (#bettertidythekitchen)
How was the first evening workshop? ‘Brilliant’ Change anything? ‘No it was perfect’ ‘The role plays gave it a focus, it was fun’. Why is 2gether important during Lockdown? ‘Social connection’, that it is more important now than ever.’ ‘See, we are all here, and we are not even having pizza!’
Participants on our Recruit programmes have commented on how relaxed it is on Zoom, that it is good for getting the feel of groups, as you don’t need your microphone or camera on.

Many have said how easy it is to use and are really enjoying it.
If you are autistic and would like to be part of a vibrant autistic community, or would like support to get ready for work through our Recruit programmes delivered over Zoom, from the comfort of your own home, get in touch. We would love you to be part of our autistic community.

 

Connect4 Expression of Interest Form

Connect4 Expression of Interest Form

Connect4 is a new 3-year programme which is designed by 100 autistic young people across 10 secondary and grammar schools in N Ireland, and which is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund. 100 autistic young people have told us they would like to connect more with others, including connecting with other autistic young people, and with autistic young people in other schools, and that there can be challenges in connecting with others.

Connect4 connects autistic young people to each other through in-school, inter-school and online opportunities to meet-up and learn together. At this time, it is important, and perhaps it is even more important for autistic young people to connect with others and stay connected.

Connect4 workshops are available for

  • Autistic young people in secondary or grammar schools in N Ireland, or who are out of school
  • Teachers and classroom assistants at secondary or grammar schools in N Ireland
  • Parents of autistic young people who are in secondary or grammar schools in N Ireland, or who are out of school

Connect4 Workshops for Autistic young people

The Connect4 programme offers autistic young people 3 ways to connect with others and to stay connected. All 3 opportunities are currently available weekly online. Young people accessing the workshops via a link on Zoom, using a laptop or using the Zoom app. All workshops are limited in numbers and require registration. To register your interest, please use the Expression of Interest form below or email Sharon Didrichsen at Sharond@specialisterne.com

 

ICONNECT workshops are where autistic young people connect with each other in small groups to learn more about connecting with others. Small groups can be for young people at one school, or inter-school groups. ICONNECT workshops use drama and fun activities to explore what it can be like to be autistic at school. Using the UCLA Peers Curriculum and Thrive Wellbeing Curriculum, together we learn how to connect more with others, how to stay connected, and how to thrive in shared learning environments such as school or work.

INTERCONNECT workshops are fun workshops which are opportunities to connect with each other over, for example board games, cooking at home, and interest Meet-ups. INTERCONNECT workshops are currently available weekly online, per school and inter-school. INTERCONNECT workshops link up autistic young people via Zoom to connect over a special interest or to play a game together.

WE CONNECT workshops connect groups of autistic young people with employers and autistic adults over Zoom. Facilitated by Specialisterne’s Connect4 team of Autism Consultants, WE CONNECT workshops are for autistic young people who may wonder what it may be like to work in a specific career as an autistic person. A wide range of careers can be accommodated due to Specialisterne’s international network of employers and of autistic people thriving in all types of careers.

 

Connect4 Workshops for Teachers and Classroom Assistants

 

Connect4 provides teachers and classroom assistants at schools taking part in Connect4 with WE CONNECT Teacher or Classroom Assistant workshops. WE CONNECT workshops for teachers or classroom assistants are weekly online workshops where participants explore what it can be like to be autistic at school and how teachers and classroom assistants can support autistic people to work at their best.

Informed by autistic young people and autism theory, WE CONNECT workshops are delivered by trainers with more than 8 years’ experience working with over 1000 autistic people of all ages. Learning material includes role plays written by autistic young people at secondary and grammar schools in N Ireland, which give insight into their experience of school.

WE CONNECT Teacher or Classroom Assistant workshops are free of charge as they are funded by the National Lottery Community Fund as part of the 3-year Connect4 programme.

Teachers and classroom assistants access the workshops via a link on Zoom, using a laptop or using the Zoom app. All workshops are limited in numbers and require registration. To register your interest, please use the Expression of Interest form below or email Sharon Didrichsen at Sharond@specialisterne.com

Connect4 Workshops for Parents of autistic young people

Connect4 provides parents of autistic young people who are taking part in Connect4 with WE CONNECT: Parent workshops. WE CONNECT workshops for parents are weekly online workshops where participants explore what it can be like to be autistic at school and at home and how parents can support autistic people to work at their best.

Informed by autistic young people and autism theory, WE CONNECT workshops are delivered by trainers with more than 8 years’ experience working with over 1000 autistic people of all ages. Learning material includes role plays written by autistic young people at secondary and grammar schools in N Ireland, which give insight into their experience of school.

WE CONNECT parent workshops are free of charge as they are funded by the National Lottery Community Fund as part of the 3-year Connect4 programme.

Parents access the workshops via a link on Zoom, using a laptop or using the Zoom app. All workshops are limited in numbers and require registration. To register your interest, please use the Expression of Interest form below or email Sharon Didrichsen at Sharond@specialisterne.com

Who is Specialisterne?

Specialisterne NI is part of an international network working across 16 countries for 16 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 its 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.

Meet the Team

The Connect4 Team include Sharon, Elaine, Ruth, Emily and Maggie. We have all studied Autism at master’s level. Here’s a little more about us:

Sharon: Specialisterne started in Denmark in 2004, 10 years later Sharon brought the model to N Ireland and has enjoyed supporting over 1000 autistic people on their journey so far. Sharon could talk about autism all day long and loves going for walks by the sea.

Elaine: After supporting autistic people at Queen’s University, Elaine joined the Specialisterne team as Team Leader of team of 9 autism consultants. Elaine has supported over 1000 autistic people on their journeys. Elaine enjoys travelling, walks on the beach and time with her new puppy Jasper.

Ruth is a Foreign Languages Teacher who joined Specialisterne 2 years ago, supporting autistic adults to secure careers. Ruth has a Master’s in Special Education. Ruth is the Connect4 Programme Co-ordinator and helps ensure the Connect4 programme fits in with and supports school life.

Maggie is an Autism Consultant who joined the team last year, supporting Specialisterne’s adult autistic community, Maggie studied Psychology in Mexico. Maggie has worked with young people for most of her time in N Ireland and finds autism fascinating. Maggie is really looking forward to getting to know all the Connect4 participants and having fun with them

Emily is an Autism Consultant who has recently joined the Connect4 team. Before joining the team, Emily was part of a private school for autistic young people. Emily has a degree in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience and is currently completing a Masters in Applied Psychology.

Connect4 Expression of Interest Form (please copy and paste into Word and email to Sharond@specialisterne.com)

Name

 

Date of Birth
Contact Email Address (parent or teacher’s email please).
Contact Phone Number (parent or teacher’s contact number)
Address  

 

Mobile Number
How do you prefer to be contacted?
How did you hear about Connect4?
Do you consider yourself to be on the Autistic Spectrum?  

 

 

Connect4 activities include:

  • ICONNECT Workshops for autistic young people
  • INTERCONNECT workshops for autistic young people
  • WE Connect workshops for autistic young people
  • WE CONNECT workshops for teachers
  • WE CONNECT workshops for classroom assistants
  • WE CONNECT workshops for parents

Which of these would you be interested in attending?

Which school do you attend? / does your young person attend?

 

Please write any additional comments on why you are interested in participating in Connect4  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connect4 is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.

Thank you for taking the time to complete this form. Please email your completed form to sharond@specialisterne.com

Should you have questions regarding Connect4, please contact Sharon on 07565 936191, email sharond@specialisterne.com

Thank you for your interest in Connect4.

Connect4 Free Virtual Meet-Ups and Webinars

Our Connect4 team of 5 autism specialists are busy preparing (free) webinars and virtual meet-ups which support autistic pupils, school staff (which includes classroom assistants, teachers), and parents over the coming months. Some of our Connect4 team are pictured above after a fun session! (From left to right: Emily Matchett, Elaine Stephens and Maggie Lockhart).
 
Connect4 is a new 3 year programme which is designed by 100 autistic young people across 10 secondary schools in N Ireland, and which is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.
 
What topics would you like to see covered? If you would be interested in receiving details of the webinars for autistic young people, classroom assistants and teachers, and parents and virtual meet-ups/interest groups for autistic young people (at secondary school or grammar school), message the team on Facebook or contact Sharon Didrichsen at Sharond@specialisterne.com #Connect4 #stayconnected