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On World Autism Awareness Day (April 2), partners of the Neurodivergent project participated in the second stage of Autism-Europe’s awareness raising campaign, “I can learn. I can work”. The campaign aims to inform and raise awareness on access to education and employment for people on the autism spectrum, even during the pandemic and its containment measures.
Neurodivergent partners shared pictures of themselves performing the campaign “holding a tool” gesture as a way of showing the diversity of ability that society can nurture to be more inclusive. In line with the objectives of the Neurodivergent project, the campaign recognizes the importance of providing training on autism to teachers and supporting autistic people in their education whether that be in person, or virtually.
It is estimated that 5 million people are on the autism spectrum in the European Union. Most autistic people experience widespread discrimination in many areas of life including in employment and education. The campaign aims to promote access to inclusive education and employment opportunities for people on the autism spectrum through the EU. During the second stage of the campaign in 2021, specific COVID-19 related topics including distance education, reasonable accommodation, mental health and pandemic related challenges are being addressed too.
The release of the European Disability Strategy for 2021-2030 and the Action Plan for the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, as well as the announcement of the Child Guarantee mark the first months of 2021. These developments to support the rights of people with disabilities in the European Union will set the pace for our campaign actions, as access to education and employment for autistic people have a strong presence within these instruments.
Autism-Europe called on people to join the campaign and to help highlight the diversity of ability that society can nurture to be more inclusive. Even though World Autism Awareness Day has passed, you can still support the campaign!
How can I support?
People willing to support the campaign can post pictures of themselves on social media using the hashtag #AutismDay2021. They can either hold a tool that represents one of their skills (it can be linked either with their ability to learn, or their ability to work on a specific field) or hold the campaign visual.
AE has also released a campaign toolkit (and a special annex for 2021) that explains the objectives of the campaign and includes communication materials and strategies, as well as in Easy-To-Read format (also for the 2021 annex).
In late March 2021, AE hosted a webinar on the theme “I can LEARN. I can WORK.” The European Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli and Members of the European Parliament Katrin Langensiepen and Chiara Gemma provided insight into the rights and needs of people with disabilities across Europe in terms of education and employment. Autistic people and their families, autism organisations, professionals, employers, EU policy-makers and the general population took also part of this collaborative online event.
The webinar is available to watch on demand anytime. Click here for more information on the event.
Neurodivergent project partner Autism-Europe has gathered useful resources and tips from across the world to help autistic people and their families navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
This time of crisis has been and continues to be particularly challenging for autistic people who see a disruption in their routine, and have difficulty facing uncertainty and change, all while their support services are also being impacted. It is essential that autistic people and their families are supported and provided with resources and accessible tools to understand and communicate about the situation and constant changes linked to the COVID-19.
Many people in the autism community are sharing resources and advice to support autistic people at this time. Below are a few resources that may be helpful to those of you in the Neurodivergent community.
Resources to help cope with stress and uncertainty:
Social stories and visual guides:
Other support initiatives, resources and tips from the autism community:
Resources in easy-to-read accessible in various languages:
Inclusion-Europe has listed easy-to-read information available across the EU.
To access all resources put together by Autism-Europe, you can visit their website here.
In September 2020, the first transnational meeting for the Neurodivergent project took place via Zoom. Project partners from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Cyprus, Czech Republic and Belgium came together to discuss the project and their responsibilities.
The kick-off meeting was attended by 7 individual partners and aimed to share understanding of the purpose of the project as well as to ensure the project’s viability and success. Partners who attended the meeting were from Godalen Videregående Skole (Norway), BILDUNGSDIREKTION FUER WIEN (The Board of Education for Vienna – Austria), Sotogrande International school (Spain), Riga 5th Primary School – Development Center (Latvia), Autismeforeningen i Norge (Norway), Kristianstad University (Sweden) and Autism-Europe (Belgium).
Different topics were addressed during the meeting including the role of each partner, the projects’ main outputs, dissemination and coordination aspects and the next steps. At this stage, partners are designing the curriculum outline and soon they will begin developing the course materials for educational professionals.
A second transnational meeting will take place in March 2021. The project foresees five transnational meetings and six national events hosted by partner countries over its 2.5 year lifespan.
The Neurodivergent project aims to develop a training programme for educational professionals and staff to enhance their abilities to work successfully with students with Asperger’s and in turn, decrease early school leaving. Running from September 2020 to March 2023, the project is funded by the European Commission’s Erasmus + Programme.
Young adults with Asperger’s face barriers while accessing Initial vocational education and training (VET) including university or colleague, due to a lack of appropriate support. The demands on these students in initial VET can result in slower completion rates, school failure and even school dropout. There is a clear need for interventions from teachers and trainers in an educational context.
The Neurodivergent project will provide training to educational professionals on how to approach and support a student with Asperger’s and improve their educational experience. The project aims to minimise the gap in learning outcomes between young adults with Asperger’s and neurotypical students.
In the framework of the project, a training package and toolkit will be developed and delivered to trainers in initial VET. Neurodivergent will also conduct a status report on the inclusion of persons with Asperger’s in VET and work life in Europe, and produce both a user guide to Asperger’s students in VET and Policy Recommendations related to the projects’ findings.
Those involved come from various backgrounds – both national and cultural – and have a wide set of skills. The project coordinator, Godalen Videregående Skole (Norway) works closely with all the other partners: BILDUNGSDIREKTION FUER WIEN (The Board of Education for Vienna – Austria), Sotogrande International school (Spain), Riga 5th Primary School – Development Center (Latvia), Autismeforeningen i Norge (Norway), Kristianstad University (Sweden) and Autism-Europe (Belgium).
About the Erasmus+ Programme
Erasmus+ is the EU’s programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe. Its budget of €14.7 billion will provide opportunities for over 4 million Europeans to study, train, gain experience, and volunteer abroad.
People with ASD have highest unemployment rates
A new report released today by the Office for National Statistics shows that autistic people are the least likely to be in work of any other disabled group. Just 21.7% of autistic people are in employment.
The project Facebook site is now active
Neurodivergent project is now on Twitter
The Neurodivergent project had a joint project meeting through Teams on the 26th. of February.
We focused on finalising the didactic guidelines and discussing the course development.
We are on course and are looking forward to meeting in person.
We will be applying for a 6 month extension to ensure the piloting and course can be undertaken successfully.
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