Becoming a Volunteer - Breaking the Stereotype of Persons with Autism
Becoming a volunteer is a great way to have deeper understanding of the Persons with Autism (PWAs). Olivia had joined the voluntary support service team for the Autistic under New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (New Life) two years ago. Like most of the outsiders, she once thought Persons with Autism tend to self-isolate themselves and are difficult to get along with before joining the team.
Learn More to Discover the Various Features of Persons with Autism
In the past few years, Olivia got to interact with a group of teenagers with Autism through a series of volunteering activities, such as day camping, gaming or seminars. Bit by bit, she, who knew little about Autism before, realised that those teenagers were nothing close to the label tagged by the public as speechless and introverted. She shared that, ‘I found that their personalities varied a lot. Some love to chat, and would even actively share their personal interest with me.’
Due to lack of relative knowledge, Olivia did not know how to communicate with the teenagers with Autism at the beginning. Not long after a few voluntary activities, she finally summed up a set of techniques to get along with them. ‘I gradually learned how to effectively help them in emotion adjustment. And I also got to know their personality and quality when being with others. Such as in daily communication, I deliberately avoid using complicated wording to make them easier to understand.’ When a young PWA was confused or acting irrationally in front of difficulty, Olivia believed it is the volunteer’s responsibility to be more patient and offer guidance.
Becoming a volunteer in the team is much more than simply teaching members to paint or helping staff to organize functions within iSPA. The genuine duty on the shoulders of a volunteer is to show a PWA to improve his/her communication skill and to build better interpersonal relationships by providing guidance. In Olivia’s case, her job was to lead this group of young people as volunteers to participate in preparation of a series of activities, from manpower and material arrangement, to finding venue and contacting cooperative organizations, and even the cleaning up after the event.
‘The longer I have gotten along with PWAs, the better our relationship has become. Now, our cooperation in preparing volunteer activities is much more effective since I may allocate their jobs properly according to their advantages.’ --Olivia
Social worker Miko who is responsible for the two ‘iBuddy’ and ‘iSPA services, shared with us that, ‘We hold seminars from time to time in campus to recruit students that are passionate with volunteering and who have certain knowledge of Autism to join us. They would be invited to be part of the mentorship campaign for six months after interview. Through such project, we hope the members may not only put the social skill they have learned into practice, but also receive help and advice from their mentors when facing challenges on the path of growth.’