autismlinks-2020-4 - Page 1

Newsletter of the Autism Association (Singapore)
APRIL 2020
MCI (P) 008/07/2019
Much of the world is currently experiencing a season of selfisolation, due to COVID-19. However, even when no pandemics
are wreaking havoc, social isolation can be a long-term predicament
for some adults with autism. This is especially so for those who
have already completed their education journey, and do not have
access to support services.
“Interacting with adults with autism can take certain amount of
emotional and mental energy, and we want to get an idea of their
level of passion and commitment,” says Anne.
Creating opportunities and honing skills for social integration
for such adults is exactly what the Eden programmes of Autism
Association (Singapore) - Eden Activity Club (EAC) and the Eden
Centre for Adults (ECFA) aim to do.
Fitness and Fun
The EAC is all about engaging adults with autism through weekly
sports, social and leisure activities.Volunteers are integral to these
programmes - each participant is matched with one volunteer,
who help to reinforce the instructions of the coaches.
EAC volunteer Jeff (back) pairing with EAC member for the exercise activity.
Volunteers play an important role in supporting and delivering our EAC,
a social and leisure programme.
“People on the autism spectrum often process things in different
ways, so we have to break instructions down into smaller
components, and patiently guide each step in a systematic way,”
explains EAC volunteer Jeff Barton.
These one-to-one pairings stay constant throughout the 10 weeks
of any particular activity. That’s because “our members thrive on
predictability, so we want to provide continuity and minimise any
disruptions and anxieties that may arise from changing faces,” says
Anne Goh, the club’s programme co-ordinator.
The club draws volunteers from all walks of life. Volunteer Jeff, a
Canadian working in the banking industry, has lived in Singapore for
a decade. The father to a 17-year-old boy on the autism spectrum
came across the EAC while searching the Internet for volunteer
opportunities, and has now been an EAC volunteer for one and a
half years. “Working with other adults on the autism spectrum has
given me a broader perspective. Everyone has different strengths
and weaknesses, so different approaches work in different ways.
I feel a tremendous sense of satisfaction seeing the members
progress and enjoying the activities.”
Indeed, Anne points out that the most crucial element when it
comes to volunteering in this area is temperament. The activities
may be related to sports and fitness, but no expertise in these
pursuits is really needed. Rather, “we need people who are really
interested in socialising with adults with autism,” she stresses.
“Heartware is the most important thing.”

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