Our Aims & Objectives
To support adults with Asperger’s syndrome and their carers, families, friends and supporters in the Dorset area by:
- Sharing the experience of living with Asperger’s syndrome from all perspectives.
- Listening to, encouraging and supporting both people with Asperger’s Syndrome and their carers, providing information, guidance and assistance through our meetings and on a personal basis.
- Raising awareness of the condition in the wider community to promote better understanding and acceptance and to facilitate access to services, support and opportunities which will aid independent living.
- Taking part in the consultative process with public and statutory bodies, and as members of the pan Dorset ASC Partnership Board, co-operating with other agencies and providing a collective and representative voice to promote understanding, to highlight gaps in service provision and to influence positive change towards the achievement of fulfilling and rewarding lives.
- Raising funds to help to achieve these objectives and to support the efforts and activities of the volunteers in running the group and realising the aims.
We regularly review our aims and objectives and welcome input and discussion from our regular supporters
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A Brief History
- 2007 an Asperger Syndrome Conference was held at the Lighthouse in Poole where many carers realised “we are not alone”
- 2008 John Downing arranged monthly meetings in which carers and the adults with Asperger’s Syndrome shared their experiences of lack of support
- 2009 With money from Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust we went Pan Dorset collecting more and more carers and cared for who needed support
- In late 2008 DAAS was set up as a Not for Profit Company
- 2009 Monthly meetings were extended to two locations, Dorchester and Bournemouth/Poole
- 2010 A new Community Adult Asperger Service (CAAS) was set up to cover Bournemouth, Poole and East Dorset and DAAS was invited to take part in the quarterly consultation process to monitor progress and identify needs. The first consultation meetings were held in July 2010.
- 2011 DAAS Membership was opened up to individuals and families and we are now into our 2nd year and extending our support base
- 2012 The pan Dorset Austistic Spectrum Condition Partnership Board was established, meeting quarterly, and the pan Dorset ASC Strategy plan was launched. DAAS has 3 representatives on the Board after playing a constructive part in developing the Strategy and Implementation Plan.
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Who We Are
DAAS currently has 4 Voluntary Directors who run the organisation on a daily basis (on a shoestring) We are without a Chairman for the moment since the first, and so far only, person to hold the post, Will Coussell, resigned in Autumn 2010 after working hard to establish the group on a sound footing. We welcome interest from any of our members, or people with lived experience of Asperger's Syndrome or High Functioning Autism, in learning more about the role of the Voluntary Directors
Our Current Voluntary Directors are
I have been travelling the world from the age of 6 months and armed with my Secretarial Diploma I have worked as a PA in several European countries, including Germany and Belgium where I worked for the Foreign Office and NATO, including time spent in military social work. I married Steve in 1983 and our first two daughters were born in Germany. After the family returned to the UK in 1985 I also became a class teacher at a nursery school and later developed my own business. It was at this juncture in the family’s life that I came to realise the enormous differences in behaviour and social learning between our eldest daughter and others. I knew from when she was 4 years old that something wasn’t right – we referred to it as a “missing link”. An ultimatum from a Headmaster at a new school, and great perseverance, led to our daughter being diagnosed with Asperger’s at age 8. Our efforts have been on determining how to enable our eldest daughter to best be educated and to thrive and grow so she can move within Society and hopefully support herself. After many challenges she is now in an Apprenticeship Training Programme to be an Avionics Engineer. Due to illness I am no longer able to work and am grateful to those at DAAS who offer an opportunity for me to use the skills developed throughout my years as a mother, employer and employee.
Diane Waters (Secretary)
I "discovered" Asperger's in 2006 when I became closely involved in the life of my cousin who was diagnosed with AS 20 years ago. In supporting him I realised the widespread need for better services, greater awareness and clearer, more accessible information about the condition. I was able to bring skills and knowledge gained in my working life to the tasks of helping him deal with problems of complex bureaucracy and a dearth of practical help and advice. I realised these same attributes could also help others and I became a Voluntary Director of DAAS in 2010 and act as Secretary.
Originally from America, I have spent the past 30+ years in educating children and adults in mainstream and special education. Since 1995 my focus has been on the Asperger/HFA population, offering support, training and practical advice. It never ceases to amaze me the lack of awareness and understanding around Asperger’s Syndrome and I am passionate about improving the opportunities for those with the diagnosis and their families.
In April 2011 DAAS became a membership organisation and we started the process of inviting applications for membership. We hope that having a dedicated membership will provide stability and commitment for the organisation and will help us move forward towards achieving our goals for the future. Details about membership and an application form can be found elsewhere on this website. Membership Introduction and Membership Form
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Plans and Priorities
The key requirements and guidelines for local authorities and the NHS were laid down by the Autism Act in 2010 and these provided significant challenges and opportunities for improvements to be made in the way services were set up and delivered. Bournemouth, Poole and East Dorset were the first to benefit from the establishment of the Community Adult Asperger Service (CAAS) but nevertheless there remain many issues which are unresolved, not least the need for similar services in the rest of the county and for better and more extensive post diagnostic services. We are still asking some of the same questions. What support is available to help those with Asperger’s Syndrome to live independent and fulfilling lives and to relieve carers of the worry about what will happen to their loved ones in future years? If there is some such support how can it best be accessed?
The establishment of the pan Dorset Autistic Spectrum Condition Partnership Board with its Strategy and Implementation Plan was also a significant step forward and DAAS is well represented on the Board and instrumental in campaigning and working towards achievement of its goals.
DAAS is now well established in the county and our advice and help increasingly sought. In the coming year our priorities are to:
- Maintain and develop our regular monthly meetings at 2 venues (covering the east and the west of the county) as our primary means of informing and supporting people with Asperger’s and their carers
- Encourage and recruit more volunteers to help us achieve our aims and to enable us to extend our range of activities
- Continue to investigate funding opportunities and to apply for financial support to help us sustain and develop our work
- Participate in the pan Dorset ASC Partnership Board representing the views of adults with Asperger’s Syndrome and High Functioning Autism and campaigning for better service provision, particularly post diagnosis.
- Focus on employment issues relating to adults with Asperger’s Syndrome and HFA, helping them to lead more independent lives through gaining productive employment or improving earning capabilities
- Maintain and develop the DAAS website responding to a growing number of enquiries
- Explore opportunities to take part in awareness raising activities to encourage better understanding and acceptance in the wider community
We consistently find that Social Services, despite commitment, have little funding to provide the help that is needed. Needs Assessments can be unsatisfactory and can fail to recognise or provide additional support. We would like to see:
- A pan Dorset web site to let Carers know whom to contact on specific issues – housing, employment etc
- Specialist help available to provide support in a crisis
- Targeted training to enable Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome to be able to lead independent lives, gain productive employment and to develop or improve their communication and social coping skills
We believe that people with Asperger’s Syndrome have many positive qualities, attributes and skills and have much to offer to their communities, to society and to their families and friends. We want to celebrate the differences which spring from thinking in a different way, recognise the challenges which are frequently met with courage and perseverance, and raise awareness of the benefits of an all-inclusive society which can better appreciate and understand this perplexing and multi-faceted condition.
If you can identify with what we are trying to achieve, or if you need support in your own situation as a carer or as a person with Asperger’s Syndrome, we invite you to contact us and join us in our meetings and our endeavours.
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