Major researches in the area of well-being and quality of life of youth with autism spectrum disorder are consistent in stating that community participation and integration is a very influential factor on the quality of life of youth with ASD. At the moment there is a noticeable lack of courses and resources for youth organizations and youth workers on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and how to include young people with ASD in their activities. In order to fill this gap and increase the focus on community initiatives aimed at inclusion, it is necessary to train and equip local and community youth organizations with adequate knowledge and expertise to be able to adapt their services to this present and future need to support the psychosocial development and independence of people with ASD.
YouthASD project will address these needs by analysing the different contexts of partner countries and sharing skills and training capacities to support the participation of ASD youth in the activities of youth organizations. The goal of the project is, on the one hand, to help increase the attractiveness and accessibility of youth work for ASD youth by involving them in needs analysis and activity creation. On the other hand, to support youth organizations in including ASD youth in their initiatives, providing the necessary methodology and training tools for youth workers and all staff involved.
To these challenges intends to respond the YouthASD project which will design, implement and evaluate:
1. A guide for youth organizations on the organizational structures they need to put in place and the strategies they can implement to attract, include and safely integrate young people with autism spectrum disorders in their activities.
2. Inclusion methodology and training program for youth workers addressed to youth workers interested in creating inclusive environments in their work for young people with ASD.
3. Piloting of youth activities for people with ASD in each participating country which will include neurotypical and ASD youth.
4. Online resources for youth organizations and youth workers on ASD which will be freely accessible through the project platform and will offer support materials and guidelines for implementing activities in accordance with the project results.
YouthASD involves 5 partners from 5 different countries (Denmark, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Spain):
– SOSU Ostjutland: VET (Vocational Educational & Training) provider in the area of social and health (DK)
– ANZIANI E NON SOLO: non-profit organization working in the field of social innovation, welfare and social inclusion (IT)
– KMOP: civil society organizations in Greece, with extensive experience in direct provision of social services and implementation of social initiatives (GR)
– CARDET: independent non-profit centre with global expertise in education, inclusion, science, professional development and digital skills (CY)
– Fundació Mira’m: non-profit foundation working exclusively with people with autism and their families throughout the entire life cycle (ES)
The project is in its initial phases and the partners had the opportunity to have the kick-off meeting in Aarhus (Denmark) on September 14th and 15th 2022.
During the meeting, partners got to know each other, learned more about the respective national contexts and agreed on the work plan and upcoming tasks. After initial activities of research and analysis of national contexts, the partnership is now proceeding with the creation of the first output, the guide addressed to youth organizations.