Enrich+ Spectrum Energy logo. Photo / Supplied

For people with autism, life can be a challenge. Young people with autism in particular often face a lonely and isolated existence as they struggle to understand their emotions, thoughts and feelings.

Autism can also have an impact on the whānau and caregivers of those with family members affected by autism. But with very little funding out there, sources of help and support are few and far between.

A Waikato based organisation, Enrich+ Spectrum Energy, is making a big difference in this neglected area with its range of personalised services for individuals, families and caregivers, as well as schools and employers supporting people with autism.

For Blake’s mum Vanessa, the help and support of Enrich+ has transformed her life and that of her son’s.

Vanessa says: “Without Enrich+ Blake would be isolated in his room or would be stuck playing with much younger children.

He would have no aspiration to live life and know the joy of friendships.

“He wouldn’t know that he’s not the only one like him. And most of all I would never have heard him laugh with friends.”

Participation in the Youth+ programme has enriched Blake’s life beyond anything Vanessa could have imagined. Blake now has friends. He goes to birthday celebrations. He is confident. He has empathy for others. Best of all he is enjoying life and now knows how to interact with peers his own age.

Youth+ is part of a range of safe and supportive programmes provided by Enrich+ that are aimed at children and young people. From 5 to 10-year-olds in the Kids+ programme through to Teens+ and Youth+ for 16 to 25-year-olds, each group provides a supportive environment of activities, discussions and games to build confidence and self-esteem and are facilitated by experience and qualified staff members.

The focus of each group is different with the emphasis on developing age-appropriate skills. The Kids+ programme uses imaginative and creative play to develop young children’s social skills and ability to communicate. The teen group focuses more on helping students adjust to the challenges that come with starting intermediate and high school. And finally the Youth+ programme provides the tools necessary for life after school and the options available to youth.

There’s no doubting the impact these important programmes are having.

“Manu has no friends at school and doesn’t know how to make them,” says his dad Tane. “Since being at Kids+ Manu now greets visitors at the door and he makes eye contact with family members.”

The truth is these groups are often the only social setting where individuals can be with those who embrace their differences and share a similar outlook.

Programmes take place on Wednesdays during term time, starting early February 2018.

  • Kids+ 4pm-5.15pm
  • Teens+ 5.30pm-7pm
  • Youth+ 7.30pm-9pm

Enrich+ is now taking applications for 2018. If you would like to enrol your young person on one of these life-changing programmes, or you would like to inquire about autism services in general, contact Enrich+ Spectrum Energy by email info@enrichplus.org.nz or call 0800 enrich. You can also check out their Facebook page, Enrich+ Spectrum Energy.

Source: Hamilton News

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