Autism Serves Volunteerism Program
Autism Empowerment introduces a positive and proactive program for our community and for our world. The Autism Serves volunteerism program was founded on the guiding belief that children and adults each have special strengths, talents and gifts. Some of these talents we may know about. Some are yet to be discovered.
Since each one of us has the potential to make this world a better place, it is important that each one of us, despite the physical, developmental or emotional challenges we may face, be given the opportunity and accommodations necessary to positively contribute to society.
Goals of Autism Serves as they tie in with our four foundational pillars
- To promote Acceptance of the Autism and Asperger community through service.
- To promote Enrichment of each individual and the community through volunteerism.
- To Inspire others to give of themselves and to befriend and employ individuals on the autism spectrum.
- To Empower each one of us to create positive change in ourselves and in the world.
It is our belief at Autism Empowerment that individuals on the Autism Spectrum and their caregivers have much to give to the world that is around them. Sometimes we just need to be given a chance. Through volunteering we can make that opportunity happen!
What are current challenges that youth and adults on the autism spectrum face?
Youth and adults on the autism spectrum have a wide range of challenges that they face throughout their lives. Because the autism spectrum is so vast and the severity of symptoms varies from individual to individual, there is no one size fits all treatment or support service.
It is often challenging for individuals and families to access the medical, educational, social and vocational support services that they require or desire. Furthermore, it can be quite difficult to access services in a timely fashion that is not cost- prohibitive or so time-intensive that treatment ends up taking away from quality of life rather than contributing to it.
Despite organizations such as Autism Empowerment promoting Autism Acceptance, public perception of individuals on the autism spectrum is often mixed because messages of gloom and exclusion often compete with messages of hope and inclusion. Individuals on the autism spectrum don’t want to be seen as a burden on society or get caught up in a competition of suffering among families. It can be hard to self-advocate when one believes his or her voice will not be heard or respected.
Unfortunately the reality is that many adults on the autism spectrum are either unemployed or underemployed. Many experience difficulty transitioning to independent adulthood after high school, exclusion from inclusive social opportunities and difficulty finding fun and meaningful ways to learn new skills and positively contribute to society. It is not a surprise that individuals and families impacted by autism often report feeling isolated, alone, anxious, depressed and not meaningfully connected within society.
We want to give chances for individuals on the spectrum to increase their chances for meaningful employment, promote entrepreneurship and to help build connections and create social opportunities in a positive environment. When we serve others, so many wonderful things can happen.
How does Autism Serves Empower our Community and Change our World through Volunteerism?
The Autism Serves volunteerism program was founded on the guiding belief that all children and adults on the autism spectrum have special strengths, talents and gifts. Some of these talents we may know about. Some are yet to be discovered. We believe in possibilities.
Autism Serves aims to build bridges, positively transform public perception and break through the glass walls of isolation by providing fun, meaningful and interesting opportunities for youth and adults on the autism spectrum to volunteer alongside others by engaging with Autism Empowerment and other non-profits.
Youth and adults on the autism spectrum in our community currently have few known opportunities to meaningfully volunteer on their own or alongside of family members and friends due to sensory issues, challenges with social communication and the potential need for accommodations.
The good news is that many nonprofits are open to utilizing and including local individuals on the autism spectrum within their volunteer programs and projects.
Since each one of us has the potential to make this world a better place, it is important that each one of us, despite the physical, developmental or emotional challenges we may face, be given the opportunity and accommodations necessary to positively contribute to improving our community.
Who is this program for?
Individuals of all ages and abilities on the autism spectrum. Individuals of all ages and abilities who want to support those on the autism spectrum. For families with children between the ages of 5 – 13, we also have recently launched the Autism Serves Kids Care Club of Clark County.
Autism Serves Kids Care Club of Clark County *NEW*
The Autism Serves Kids Care Club of Clark County is now underway! Kids Care Clubs are groups of young people who work together to help others in their communities and around the world. The Autism Serves Kids Care Club of Clark County is a new, fun, inclusive and autism-friendly volunteering club for kids on the autism spectrum of all abilities as well as their siblings and peer mentors.
As part of a network of generationOn’s Kids Care Clubs, we will be connection with other youth volunteering clubs throughout the globe. We will be offering monthly service projects at club meetings as well as activities that can be completed at home or at other nonprofits in the community!
Our first club meeting is Sunday, October 11th from 2 – 4 PM at The Arc of Clark County. Please see the sidebar to the left to learn more about this exciting volunteer program for youth in elementary school and middle school and their families!
When did Autism Serves begin?
We initially began program development in 2013, surveying and meeting with youth, adults, families and professionals in the autism community about feasibility and interest. We also have developed positive relationships with other nonprofit organizations and community partners.
Our first official Autism Serves event was the 3rd Annual Easter Egg Hunt for Acceptance of All Abilities on Saturday, April 19th, 2014. Over 180 volunteers of all ages and abilities volunteered their time and ending up serving over 1,400 attendees from the Southwest Washington and Portland, OR metro region. On April 4th, 2015 at our 4th Annual Easter Egg Hunt for Acceptance of All Abilities, we utilized over 250 volunteers, serving over 1,600 attendees.
Volunteers on the autism spectrum served alongside family members, friends, community members and local dignitaries.
There was a role for everyone. We had volunteers in elementary school who helped stuff eggs. We had volunteers in middle school who were on Sticker Patrol and Coin Patrol. Many high school students, adults and seniors served as buddies, greeters, front end registration, field operations, prize patrol and security. See our photo album here!
Why Volunteer through Autism Serves?
The vision of the Autism Serves program is to promote unity within the Autism Community by creating a program with no competition that is built on giving back and working together. We are piloting our program in the Southwest Washington / Portland metro region.
This is where you can find volunteer opportunities with Autism Empowerment and other nonprofit organizations, record your hours and have the opportunity to earn special prizes, awards and recognition through Autism Empowerment.
Eventually, Autism Empowerment hopes to have a special website area designated just for Autism Serves. For now, we will be using AutismEmpowerment.org as the main website. We will be having special shows on Autism Empowerment Radio talking about volunteerism and we will be inviting volunteers to share their personal stories.
You may volunteer for Autism Empowerment or any organization, agency, club, church or group within your community. Autism Empowerment will be working with local and statewide groups to help find you volunteer opportunities. You may also seek your own.
Autism Serves Technical Manual (for nonprofits wishing to work with volunteers on the autism spectrum)
Autism Empowerment is seeking funds to develop, produce and distribute an Autism Serves Volunteer Training Kit that will be utilized to train local nonprofits regarding strategies and opportunities to proactively and positively include local youth, teens and adults on the autism spectrum within their volunteerism programs.
How can I get involved?
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Autism Empowerment will be working with non-profits and for-profits to find opportunities for volunteering. Our organization is currently seeking funding partners and community partners in order to build this program to the scope in which the autism community deserves.
Thank you for your interest in learning more Autism Serves program. Please check back for updates!